Your Life In Review
Have you ever contemplated how your life will be seen in the Light of God?
There can be no more important contemplation -- how He will judge or "review" everything you have ever done, said, or thought. (And how you have reacted to everyone and each situation.)
Ask Rick Wendell, of Wisconsin, who was once in the fast-lane of quick money from building custom homes, dealmaking, and selling drugs. There was drinking. There were women. And a lot of all of the above.
Then, at age thirty, after receiving stitches for a construction injury, he lapsed into a reaction to the anesthesia and was out of it to the extent that he was clinically "dead" for two-and-a-half hours -- cold to his mother's touch, turning blue-gray. In fact, doctors were preparing his body so it could be shipped to Minnesota for organ harvesting (he was a donor).
But during his "death," in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Wendell had the mystical experience of passing to the other side and encountering the Light of God. It's not something that can really be described. "I don't know whether I went toward it, or it came toward me, because distance, space, and time cannot describe what I was experiencing," he recounts in the new book, Of Men and Mary.
"The Light was just there. It had no visible source, and its brightness was beyond blinding and yet soft on my eyes. It cannot be described by color or wavelength or anything that we use to describe light here on earth because it was infinitely more."
He suddenly knew Who God is -- "the most obvious thing there could possibly be," as he phrases it: that is, all around us but usually unrecognized. He also realized, did Wendell, that a human life is but a "blink within that reality" but also that each and every life is "profoundly important" to the Creator.
What we do with it is critical, says Wendell now; as if "life were a test, but not one that we pass or fail, a test of who we are."
The experience, which occurred after his expiration at three p.m. on a Friday, kicked off a metanoia -- deep spiritual awakenings that reached a crescendo when he visited the apparition site of Medjugorje in former Yugoslavia and, during a "miracle of the sun," standing directly outside of where the Tabernacle resided within the church there, "saw all the sinful events of my life up through to the present moment," he writes -- one account in this book of six amazing testimonies. "It was an illumination of conscience, an experience more intimate and vivid than a movie, more realistic than a 3-D image; and I had the sense that God was there, somewhere behind me, watching everything."
During it, the young Wisconsin man was "aghast," he now says, to see the implications of his sins -- "how my actions or inactions were so much bigger than one single event and had a ripple effect on others across time and eternity." Incredibly, at one point he saw that even an event when he was just five years old was "replayed": his seemingly trivial theft of a Matchbox car from the rack of a local store!
The Lord communicated to Rick how even at that tender age he'd had a choice -- an inherent sense of what was wrong or right -- and had ignored it. To his shock, Wendell also saw that such a seemingly forgettable act of mischief had a "ripple effect," how besides having to pay for it, the store owner and others who were touched by what happened lost a bit of trust in fellow humans, which in ways small but large changed their behavior toward others. So it went, this "review," up through adulthood. In "mind-boggling" detail, the homebuilder saw scenes from his moral descent -- how "materialism, power, and pleasures became my gods. I saw an attachment to the forty-foot motor yacht, the big house on the river, the cool cars, the clothes, the sex, the drugs."
Right before his eyes was the hurt his lifestyle had inflicted on a shocking number of people, including one to whom he had sold drugs and who had later committed suicide. He saw how the man's death had torn his family apart -- initiated a spiral of pain. The drugs were part of the man's decision to end his life -- and Wendell was implicated in that!
All guilt was exposed. Immediately after, Rick found himself with an uncontrollable desire for Confession.
This, again, was at Medjugorje, where so many have the same compulsion for the sacrament that the papal envoy is in the midst of adding to the already dozens of confessionals there.
It was also there that Wendell heard a Voice out of the blue say, "I want you to be a priest."
What? Wendell was engaged at the time! The dress was bought! They had the country club rented! He had never once in his life contemplated the priesthood!
Yet he now knew, and now knows, who he was really is.
Today, that "who" is Father Rick Wendell, and as he will tell you, "The most profound part of my experience, by far, was knowing God is love. Never had I realized that I could be loved like that -- with a love so perfect, so pure, so intense, so marvelous that nothing else mattered!" Amen.
[resources: Of Men and Mary]