By Rick Fromm
By Rick Fromm

   Make no mistake -- I believe. It’s how I was raised. However, the decision to embrace the thought we exist for eternity after our time in the physical world is over came about of my own volition.

No matter what you want to call it, whether it’s heaven or the spirit world or an endless state of blissful consciousness, I firmly believe when our bodies are worn out and no longer able to cope, we transition to a state of existence that allows our spirit to remain active for all time.

Although we can’t actually see these spirits, examples of their actual presence are offered to us daily if we’re just perceptive enough to recognize and acknowledge them. It happens to me all the time. 

Sometimes I’ll hear the voice of a dear, departed loved one whispering to me in the wind. Sometimes a feeling of déjà vu overwhelms me and the fact it is “spirit driven” seems undeniable to this old lamb of God. Sometimes I’ll see the time displayed on my digital clock as 4:44, and know without a doubt it’s my friend-for-life, and beyond, Jayme Neubauer (aka “Twelver” – do the math -- just checking in to say hi).

Just about anyone with faith in a higher power or “after life” has had similar experiences, and I firmly accept them as real rather than just popping up by coincidence out of nowhere. I can still hear my “dead” father, George, whispering advice to me. It may be subtle, but I can make it out if I listen close enough.

But make no mistake, whether you embrace the concept of eternal life (in whatever form) or are convinced that when you die that’s the end of your story – forever – the term “faith” plays a huge role in our decision-making. Realistically, it is our faith – or lack thereof – that drives us forward into the fog of life.

My childhood upbringing revolved a great deal around faith and the belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross to absolve our sins, and then, three days later, rose from the dead to prove he wasn’t messing around. Embracing that faith, however, can be extremely taxing and I’ll admit at times mine has been shaken to the core.

In order to make sure my understanding of Christianity and “faith” were secure, my parents made sure I attended Sunday School EVERY SUNDAY from the time I was 5 until I turned 50 (just kidding there – lighten up – but you get my point).

Throughout the decades I’ve worshipped as a Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian and Lutheran (it’s a long story and rather boring). And although their basic teachings vary a bit, the overall message is the same: Jesus was the man and he came here to save our souls. He certainly saved mine – although I’m a continual work in progress.

Faith can be so demanding, though, and it requires a certain commitment on our part. Who among us hasn’t questioned our conviction when it seemingly makes no sense to believe in a higher power that guides us forever and ever?

Want an example? You got it. It was Easter afternoon and our family was sitting down to a lovely meal of succulent ham, scalloped potatoes (my specialty), asparagus and yummy dinner rolls. It was divine and served as a perfect venue to restore our faith.

But throughout the meal, my mind kept wandering to the gut-wrenchingly sad story of Todd Heap and how he was holding up. For those who may have missed it, the basics go something like this:

A few days before the Easter holiday, Heap, a 12-year NFL lineman, got in his pickup truck and accidentally ran over his beautiful 3-year-old daughter. The mere thought of that scene and what the Heap family had to be going through was soul crushing. My scalloped potatoes were no consolation to the profound pain I was feeling.

A statement issued by the Baltimore Ravens accurately and poignantly described the incident: “We cannot imagine the heartbreak and sorrow Todd and Ashley’s family feels right now. This is knee-buckling news and an overwhelmingly sad tragedy. Our prayers, our thoughts and our hearts are with the Heaps, who have contributed so much to the Ravens and Baltimore community. We believe their deep faith and tremendous support from friends and family will help them through this unimaginable time.”

 As we shared our Easter meal with laughter and joy, my mind kept drifting to the Heap family and the unrelenting grief they must be going through. I wish I had the words to ease their pain, but my efforts would be futile, I’m sure.

That is where faith comes into play. Despite the horrific nature of the accident, one’s only hope for salvation is to accept that it was part of God’s ultimate plan. That’s hard to wrap your brain around, however, when you’re saying goodbye to your sweet little girl.

Are instances like that really part of God’s plan, or is life just a “crap shoot” and no one, not even God, is really in control? I don’t know the answer to that ultimate question, but I will continue to have faith. No matter how much it hurts at times.

May faith help ease the Heap family’s pain.