Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
I still remember the period in my pre-teen years when I began mentally struggling with the physical and soulish concepts of eternity, a struggle that continued throughout my teen years. My turmoil over the physical side of eternity came with the realization that I will die.
What bothered me about this reality then is the same thing that bothers me now, this may sound a bit strange, but it was not the pain surrounding death that concerned me, it was the realization that the world would continue on... and I wouldn't be here to see it.
One of the basic tenets of the brand of atheism I was exposed to was that matter is eternal, so I knew that the moment I breathed my last breath nothing in this material world would change... it would just continue on... and on... and on. (By eternal I mean without beginning or end. Orthodox Christianity teaches that matter had a beginning, but is now everlasting. A basic philosophical argument between deism and atheism is not what will be the state of matter, but what was the state of matter.)
This mental exercise over the physical reality of existence immediately led me to contemplate the unique nature of human existence in the cosmos. Are we just dust, or is there something non-physical about us that is as everlasting as matter? This led me to contemplate the existence of God and what He is if He exists. My conclusion, and one I still hold to today, was that there is a God, and this God must be a non-material transcendent intelligence, and the creator of all things including us.
This realization, for me, elevated conscious existence to a higher level than matter as the only knowable eternal substance. Could it be possible that I, not my body... but my being, might transcend matter and exist beyond death? I came to the conclusion that it was not only possible, but probable. This deepened my struggle.
I skimmed a book years ago by a man named Alexander. I remember almost nothing about the book except his comments about the burdens a spiritual person will carry through life. One of the heaviest burdens he said was the "burden of eternity." A spiritual person sees past this life… there is more than this… and this knowledge is the greatest burden of this existence. I felt this was a good expression of what had happened to me. The realizations that I mentioned above gave me this burden of eternity, and that weight has never left me.
It is a burden for self which manifests in the question: What will be the state of my being after this life? How can I know what the Creator has in store for me? I knew that the answer would not be found in the physical, it must be revealed mind to mind. And that revelation must be in harmony with what is visibly revealed in this created conscious existence: absolute law, justice, conscience and guilt, mercy that honors law and is, therefore, not capricious. This precise synthesis of revelation I found uniquely in Jesus and His Gospel.
But this realization of eternity also manifests itself as a burden for others... and the loving question that ever flows from that burden: “Where will you spend eternity?”