All things die. The question is whether they live again. The question is not whether they exist in some other form, but live again in their first identities.
We are like anxious children who must have an answer. Not getting one, we are inclined like children to create one that helps us fall asleep in the dark.
We make God into someone smaller. We compress ambiguity into tight little boxes of certainty. We talk to God as if we had Her all figured out. He is all wise, all knowing, all powerful and all loving. These are true statements. But they are so vast in their truth to be almost useless in understanding God as the other party in a personal relationship. To whom do we pray? To whom do we express our gratitude? In whom do we place out trust? Why does a loving God allow or possibly cause human suffering? Who is this God?
I am now 65 years old. I have been in varying ways connected to God through the prism of my Christianity for four decades as a thinking adult, and for a decade or so before that as a child. The graph of my beliefs has gone from narrow (child) to broad (adolescent) to narrow (40s) to broad again (60s). I feel I have entered a late life adolescence with a wiser and more experienced open mind. Among other things, I have become tolerant of uncertainty, and embraced mystery. There is no other choice.
The danger of religious platitudes is that when they are rejected, there is no foundation to replace them. At that point, the feeling of being unanchored may lead a person to reject God all together, or to minimize the importance of a spiritual practice, or conversely to adopt any religious practice that seems to fill the gap. These responses are just anxious responses to uncertainty.
The better response in my experience is to stay in the dialogue with whomever is the Creator. There are certain assumptions that may need to be in place. The first is that there is Someone there to hear you. The second is that He cares to hear you. The third is that She is not out to harm you, and may even be ready to bring “good” into your life, even if you do not ask, but especially if you ask. A fourth is that She also wants to know you, and to be in relationship. That is, if you knock, He will open the door.
Engaged uncertainty allows you to get real with God. I’ve given up on rote prayers or predictable phrases that are so repeated as to lose meaning. I’ve given up on the mental inflections of words spoken mechanically. I’ve consciously tried to think of God as a person willing to humble herself to connect with me as a person. I’ve begun to speak honestly with God in plain words about fears, disappointments, doubts, hopes, and gratitude. I’ve given up on religious rituals and liturgies. It’s time to move on. It’s time to be willing to ask: God, are you really there? And if you are, who are you? The immensity of the questions and the impossibility of complete answers are overwhelming.
I have become content with not knowing. I have become content drawing my own conclusions based on observations of the world around me.
The Bible says almost nothing of the after life. From that I conclude the “life after death” question is one we cannot answer in any detail. We simply do not have eyes to see or minds to understand. It’s not our business to know the details. Our business is to live this present life with as much honest connection to God as we have the fortitude to endure.