It All Started With a Silly Discussion About Sleep
I am by no means a teacher. I am just a person, probably much like you, who has many questions. I think, when you have questions, you should go to the source, so that's where I'm starting. The Bible. Plain and simple.
In all fairness, I have discussed my questions with friends, and they have helped me work through some of my many questions. They have not hesitated to hear me when I cry, and they help me work through it WITH them, instead of preaching at me (like has happened my entire life).
See this whole search for truth started when I realized one day that one of the stories I had been taught growing up was not entirely biblically based. Now, you may argue with me, but hear me out. This was, in my perspective, like a slap in the biblical face. I had always relied on others to teach me the Bible instead of actively pursuing it myself, and what I got were what seemed like fairy tails and Santa Claus. These stories had been ingrained in my psyche from the beginning. I'm not blaming anyone. It's sort of like when folklore gets passed down through the generations, and nobody actually checks history to see if the story is fact.
Now, I'm not saying these biblical events didn't happen, but they may not have happened exactly as I had been taught. This was a huge awakening for me. If I couldn't fully trust on what I'd been taught, I'd have to find the answers for myself. By the way, by no means take my word as gospel! Go study on it for yourself. I'm hear to listen to your thoughts.
In this installment, I'm going to discuss what I learned at a young age was called "The Long Sleep." This is what happens when our souls cease being trapped in these earthly confines we call bodies. In other words, what happens to our spirits when we die.
I grew up as a Seventh-Day Adventist, and as such I was taught that when we die our souls go into a deep sleep. We are "awakened" when Jesus comes back on the clouds (another discussion for another time). I never questioned this. I was sure they got it from the Bible, as they were my biblical teachers.
Fast forward 15 years. I no longer considered myself a Seventh-Day Adventist. Now my church does not teach "The Long Sleep." They teach that when we die, we go straight to heaven to be with Jesus. Again, I did not question this idea. I went to this new church, this is what they taught, it must be correct.
Jump another 15 years. I still believed that when we die we go straight to heaven. The teacher (Preacher, Minister) backed it up by using 2 Corinthians 5:8, and said, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." This sounded FANTASTIC. Again, I never questioned it (and obviously never really looked it up in detail).
Then it happened. One of my Seventh-Day Adventist friends mentioned that one of their friends had passed, and was now in their "Long Sleep." Unfortunately, I am the type of person that needs to argue my point. I immediately was going to tell them how wrong they were. I was going to back it up by scripture.
I looked it up.
I sat there staring at the page.
Was I reading this right?
The Bible did NOT say "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
What 2 Corinthians 5:8 actually says is: "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (NIV)
I was completely confused. So, do we sleep until Jesus' return? Do we immediately meet Jesus? Who was right? Is everything I've been taught my whole life this way?
Here is what I've come to realize: it doesn't matter. I can tell you many different interpretations that I have read and discussed with people. I can tell you how the verbiage in Hebrew is different than how we actually understand it today. But, it doesn't matter.
What I DO know, death happens. If we are asleep, we won't realize it. The next thing we know, we WILL be present with the Lord. Greatness is going to happen no matter HOW I interpret that one passage.
I also know that Revelations 21:3-4 says, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Whether we sleep not, God will wipe my tears away. There will be no more death, no more grief, no more crying, no more pain. Awesome things are going to happen despite it all.
By: Amanda Marie, Director of Social Media Management