One of the main attacks on Christianity and God Himself is the cynical question, “If God loves us so much, then why does He send us to hell?”
Unfortunately, too many Christians fall into the trap of digging into Scriptures to quote verses, which is frankly unpersuasive to non-believers and barely inspirational to believers who may hold doubts about their impending deaths.
My response and belief is this, “God doesn’t send us to hell, we send ourselves to hell.” We send ourselves to hell when we choose to ignore the living God (the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) over the course of of our lives. God loves each of us so much that He will give us every chance to turn to Him. He even gave us His only Son to die for us. Yet, He won’t force us to love him, it’s our choice – it’s called free will.
“God doesn’t send us to hell, we send ourselves to hell.”Patrick Slevin
When I was 19 years old, I was a non-believer who made a desperate plea for God’s help to save my life. Mind you, during this period, I had some knowledge about a Christian God and a Savior, but for me, that was a foreign notion that didn’t serve my purposes. I had no need for God and adhering to religious mind control. I ignored every invite to church and Bible studies from friends.
Then something happened to me when I was 19. It was the summer in Upstate New York where I was vacationing in Lake George. I had won an all-expense-paid trip to Lake George sponsored by my employer Kirby Vacuums. I was a door-to-door salesman and I had sold so many Kirby’s that I was one of the elite new salesman in the entire Northeast and won the trip.
It was a great party atmosphere with my fellow Kirby associates and winners. I decided to join a group boating out to the middle of the lake for parasailing. The group was comprised of Kirby salesmen from the Bronx who were a few years older.
They were boasting about how much tougher New Yorker’s were from the Bronx than anywhere else (I’ll come back to that in a moment). So, when we got to the platform, the director asked who wanted to go parasailing first? No one raised their hands, so I stood up and was lifted up above the lake.
Little did I know that a 10 minute ride would turn into a spiritual journey that would last for nearly 45 minutes, changing my thinking about God.
“God I’m not afraid of dying, but I don’t want to die today, please save me!”Patrick Slevin
At the beginning, it was a scenic experience. Not a cloud in the sky and the sun shining off the lake, surrounded by the majestic Adirondack Mountains. Half way into my ride, a storm cell unexpectedly blew in over the mountains bringing torrential rain, lightning and tropical storm force winds. This happened in less than a minute and it swept in so fast that the crew members never had a chance to pull me down to safety. It was the end of the world.
As I was being pelted by the rain and lightning cracking all around me, I went from about 150 ft over the water at a 45 degree angle, now straight up to over 300 feet. I looked down to the crew pleading in vain for them to reel me in. I could barely see them, but it was obvious that they were struggling to keep the line from snapping from the tension, and me flying into the side of one of the mountains. I kept slipping farther away.
Then everything went to hell. My parasail that was bobbing above my head, suddenly got caught in a downdraft, flying past me and then pulling me, feet over more head, straight down toward the water. Then just before crashing into the lake, an upwind reversed my direction, taking me straight back up toward the storm clouds. I was a kite in a hurricane.
I was fearful for my life! The parasail was ripping and the lightning getting closer and the crew looking farther away. I knew that I was going to die. I decided to turn to God at that moment of realization.
I began to pray. I said to God, “God I’m not afraid of dying, but I don’t want to die today, please save me!” God obviously heard my cries for help and He sparred me, after 40 minutes stuck in the crucible. When I finished my prayers and pleas, a crack in the clouds showed the sun! The storm began to subside and I was no longer fearful of dying.
When I was reeled back in by the crew, I fell unto the platform, exhausted but exhilarated and I said to the director, “Are all your rides like this?”. The director said in response, in an adrenaline crazed voice, “Man, you almost kissed the face of God, because we didn’t think we were going to get you back!!”
As I went to find a seat back in the boat, I noticed the scared looks of those guys from the Bronx and I said to them, “So which one of you are going next?!”
Each one of them said no flipping way and we boated back to shore. So much for tough guys from the Bronx!
The moral to sharing my near death experience, that truly happened, is to punctuate that God is there for us. He loves us and He will give us every chance to have a relationship with Him. You only need to seek Him out and I promise that He won’t let you down.
God has so much more to offer than to answer pleads for help. He is there to help us grow in our faith and have a deep, meaningful relationship with Him.
A word of caution and awareness: For those who choose not to let God into their lives, then you’re choosing Hell now, not just after the Judgment, but also during this life. That may sound harsh or judgmental, but stay with me for a few more paragraphs for a greater point.
So what is Hell?
Jesus experienced Hell as He was on the cross. As He took on our Sins, Jesus experienced the separation from His Father, which had to be Hell for our Savior. Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). I will blog about why this had to happen and its significance.
“Hell is a state of separation from our Creator, our Comforter and our Savior.”Patrick Slevin
In closing, Hell is not an imaginary, fiery pit where we are tormented for eternity. It’s much worse than that. Hell is a state of separation from our Creator, our Comforter and our Savior in this life and in the next reality.
For those who choose to avoid, ignore or scorn God, you will have freely turned away from your God. When we’re called by Jesus in the Judgment, it will be too late to change your mind.
For those who think there’s a loophole with accepting God on your death beds, how sure are you that you will have that chance? How certain can you be that one decision at the end is enough to whitewash a lifetime carrying a character hostile toward God? Do you really want to gamble your soul?
Odds are when you see your maker, He will not recognize you as one of his own, because by your decisions, you will have put yourself into Hell knowing that you turned your back on God. Never the other way around.
It’s not a sure bet for us believers either. Trust me, we can never take the love of God for granted. We must endeavor to develop a character that’s Christ-like and a light in this world for others to follow.
We all suffer the trials and tribulations of life. No one is excused from pain so I encourage those who are indifferent or unsure to pray and see what happens. I assure you, if you sincerely make yourself vulnerable to God, invite Him into your heart that He will be present, and you will begin to see His blessings that will change your life both here in this world and I pray in the next.
Don’t wait to be a kite in a hurricane, but rather turn to God asking Him to give you still waters of hope and redemption in this life and the next.