I knew a man who was resuscitated after having been dead half an hour. Suffering from a severe case of double pneumonia, he died and had a prolonged encounter with Jesus. His story may not fit your theological framework.
I met Dr. George Ritchie in 1986. Prior to our encounter, knowing the sensational nature of his story, he gave me references to verify his credibility. On the occasion of our meeting, Dr. Ritchie related to me his encounter with our Lord after dying, a story which he also recounted in his book, Return from Tomorrow
“I wasn’t sure when the light in the room began to change; suddenly I was aware that it was brighter, a lot brighter, than it had been. It was impossibly bright. “I’m glad I don’t have physical eyes at this moment,” I thought. “This light would destroy the retina in a tenth of a second.”
The instant I perceived Him, a command formed itself in my mind. “Stand up! You are in the presence of the Son of God.”
When I say He knew everything about me, this was simply an observable fact. For into that room along with his radiant presence – simultaneous had also entered every single episode of my entire life. On all sides of us was what I could only think of as a kind of enormous mural – except that the figures on it were three dimensional, moving and speaking. And with this all-inclusive view came a question.
“What have you done with your life to show Me?”
He wasn’t asking about accomplishments and awards. The question, like everything else proceeding from Him, had to do with love. How much have you loved with your life? Have you loved others as I am loving you? Totally? Unconditionally?
Hearing the question like that, I saw how foolish it was even to try to find an answer in the scenes around us. I hadn’t known love like this was possible. Someone should have told me, I thought indignantly.
The answering thought held no rebuke, only that hint of heavenly laughter behind the words: “I did tell you. I told you by the life I lived. I told you by the death I died.”
George Ritchie reentered what C.S. Lewis termed “the dark planet” longing to be back in the presence of the One who loved him unconditionally. The experience brought the focus and passion to his life that we all seek.
Regardless of what you may think of his story, the question Jesus posed to Ritchie is provocative. I couldn’t help reflecting on the question myself, searching old journals and family video tapes. What would I show Jesus? What would He think of my life – would he find there a passion for His cause? How about you?