When Hollywood actress Carrie Fisher unexpectedly died of a heart attack aged sixty (we are only ever one heart beat away from eternity), her equally famous 'superstar-of-yesteryear' mother Debbie Reynolds reportedly said to Carrie's friends and millions of fans worldwide, that their "thoughts and prayers were guiding her to her next stop".
What and where is that 'next stop'?
As I watched on television and read these words, I wondered where such thinking had come from and what Debbie actually meant: what sort of afterlife did she envision?
On the reasonable assumption and expectation that many to whom these words were uttered had an equally cloudy idea about the afterlife, I pondered whether she really meant that the mere "thoughts" of millions of probably secular, unspiritual fans were in some mysterious way "guiding" Carrie to her next stop.
Putting to one side their apparently powerful thoughts, I also marvelled how the prayers of those same millions of fans and friends were equally powerfully guiding her to that next stop, and to what force or to whom those prayers had been offered up.
Powerful, effective, focused prayer
God tells us that the prayer: of a righteous [yet very imperfect] man [or woman] is powerful and effective. (James chapter 5 verse 16). But this statement only refers to the prayer of the Christian person, which prayer is offered directly to God Himself. It does not refer to the undirected prayer of the person without faith.
God says He simply does not listen to such a prayer. Worse still: if anyone "turns" a deaf ear to the law [the very words of God], even his prayers are detestable [to Him]. (Proverbs chapter 28 verse 9).
It was Isaiah the prophet, inspired by the Spirit of God 700 years before Jesus walked the earth, who wrote: Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn [to Him] and be healed (of their hard hearts against Him). (chapter 6 verse 10).
I also wondered where Carrie's next stop might be, and whether it was thought she would then move on to further stop(s) on some sort of inter-galactic 'Star Wars type' journey through the universe.
Don't believe in anything? Believe anything!
It is very sad that such ignorant drivel is apparently believed by anyone, and I queried what comic book it may have come from, or was it (more likely) straight from an unbelieving human imagination invented for the sake of producing a warm fuzzy comforting feeling that soothes those imaginations about a gaping hole in the mind and heart.
Jesus came, died AND (most significantly) rose again to: "free" those who all their lives were held in slavery by their "fear"...of death. (Hebrews chapter 2 verse 15).
Sadly, at age eighty four Debbie died the very next day, presumably in that same state of uninformed unbelief. A television commentator's statement that she "can now be with her daughter" is nothing short of preposterous and lamentable.
Eternity planted in the human heart
According to the Bible there is nothing but dark, never-ending, horrifying loneliness if eternity is not enjoyed in heaven where there is: a great multitude that no-one could count. (Revelation chapter 7 verse 9).
God tells us He has "set eternity in the hearts of men". (Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 11). Debbie at least seemed to have some sort of vague notion of that much. Significantly however that very same verse concludes: yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
A final piece of grievously ignorant nonsense was that someone had written on Debbie's 'Star of Fame' in the footpath: 'May the force be with you', whatever that means.
Arguably the most comforting words in the whole of Scripture are those of the risen LORD Jesus Himself when He said then, and still says to His followers today: "I" am "with" you always, even to the end of the age (the very end of time and beyond). (Matthew chapter 28 verse 20 NKJV).
Debbie appeared not to have 'fathomed' what God has done.
What God did in the beginning was plainly stated by Him at the beginning of Scripture where, through the pen of Moses He says: In the beginning God "created" the heavens and the earth. (Genesis chapter 1 verse 1).
He has equally plainly foretold what will happen at the end of His world as we currently know it, which is neither the end of life nor of His presence or involvement with His adopted eternal family who have already, or will before Jesus' second coming, receive His unmerited salvation.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the [New Jerusalem], and His servants...will not need...the light of the sun, for the LORD God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation chapter 22 verses 3 & 5).
According to the Bible, upon death there will not be some sort of joyous ride involving adventurous stop(s) throughout eternity. The "next stop" will be the last stop.
There will either be the never-ending joy of having entered God's rest, fellowshipping with Him and His heavenly host forever, or the personal disaster of hell which will be infinitely worse than death itself.
Jesus is the reason for the season
The very reason for Jesus' rescue mission, totally without cost to us was to open the door for us to the former outcome and to enable us to avoid the latter. All He seeks from us is: a broken and contrite heart. These O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51 verse 17).
That's what awaits whoever believes: heaven forever.
Gavin Lawrie is a retired Barrister and Solicitor from Tweed Heads NSW Australia and author of the book: 'THE EVIDENCE OF EVOLUTION: Uncovering The Faulty Science Of Dawkins' Attack On Creationism'. He is married to Jan. They have two adult children and are grandparents.
Gavin Lawrie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/gavin-lawrie.html