I really don't know either. I always thought it sounded like (from near death experiences, etc.) that you instantly just started passing into afterlife, going where ever you're going. Also I think I read something in Buddhism that it takes 40-45 days for this passage to occur.
Either way, I never thought there was a period of null-like sleep, awaiting judgement, but recently have read that too in Christianity. So I don't know. It also adds to confusion when people say their loved ones have passed and are in heaven. Sure, you want to believe that, because otherwise, where are they?
I have always been Catholic, however I don't believe I was always Christian. I know that sounds horrible but it is true. It was from years of hearing I had to personally appeal to Jesus and ask him to enter my heart and take control of my life, that I finally did so, and truly at that point became a Christian.
I was at the end of my rope, I felt my efforts (which were strong, disciplined, perfectionist, moral, intense, and well beyond those of others) got me practically nowhere, after years of struggling. I gave up and asked Him to take control. And He did and life flowed forward, no longer was I banging my head against the wrong brick wall.
So to give this gift of a life lived in Christ is something I wish everyone could experience. The world is different once you finally see it through converted eyes.
@rabst I have had similar experiences with Baptists, so I understand what you are talking about. Perhaps even on the same Baptist board! I find that some Baptists are unwilling to have religious discussions with people who do not have the exact beliefs they do. They want to teach others their beliefs, and be held in high regard for knowing their perceived way, but are intolerant of questions where the answer might point outside their way.
I don't want to generalize of course but I personally have just had many experiences with Baptists. Being a very questioning, seeking, curious person, I find my questions and comments are NOT welcome.
I think this is an argument in semantics. Also the language in the Bible is old, and it has been translated. When language is translated there is always the possibility exact word to word translations do not exist, and the translation has to be the sprit of the word, not the letter.