In a split second, my life was about to change drastically and within that brief time, the Lord heard our cry.
In John’s Gospel – when the accusers of the woman caught in adultery left one by one, she might have been relieved to be spared a death by stoning, but still, she had to face Jesus.
“So He was left alone with the woman before Him” (John 8:9).
Imagine how she felt at that moment, all alone before Jesus knowing that she was guilty of mortal sin?
In death, I will stand alone before Jesus, before the Light that will shine on my soul – revealing all its interior facets. There will be no shadows. Before Him, my being will be unmasked, stripped of the walls I’ve erected, and the webs I’ve spun around myself unraveled. Who can bear it? The truth of my heart will face the Truth. Will He find faith? Will He find hope? Will He find love?
At the Brink
In a split second my vehicle went airborne, bounced on its top on the highway median, and crash-landed on four wheels on the southbound parallel freeway. In that moment a singular clarity urgently rose within me, “I’m not ready to die!” This instant lucid realization expressed a wordless, desperate plea to God for my life. A prayer. I had not prayed in well over a decade. When the vehicle stopped, the world around me stood still and silent as I struggled to breathe. I sat strapped and gasping inside the crumpled metal for what seemed like an eternity – alone and aware.
“Will I survive this crash? What shape will I be in if I do survive?” Fear and uncertainty flooded my mind stranded there on the highway. A song came from somewhere in my remote memory, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor, blessed be the Lord.” This gentle melody cut through the daze and confusion until help arrived.
Looking back I’m struck that in that moment, beyond the fear that gripped me, I felt a deep sense of loss – that I had misspent my life. I had squandered the chance to live the life for which I was created. Grasping at the irretrievable opportunities of the life I was meant to live was like that sinking feeling when a balloon slips out of my grasp, and I watch it rise higher every second with no hope of getting it back.
When I walked out from the emergency room later that evening, shaken but whole except for minor scrapes and bruises, I knew God had heard my plea. I was given a second chance at life. I prayed, “Lord, you have a plan for my life, I want to live that life.” That was the decision that changed the trajectory of my life.
Three other important decisions that opened a path before me, which set me in a definite direction. God sent Christians to provide opportunities for me to make these choices.
- The decision to follow Jesus: At a weekend retreat where I experienced a real encounter with Jesus, I committed my life to Him.
- The decision to open myself to the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit: After the weekend retreat, a friend invited me to attend a weekly prayer group meeting. While attending that prayer group meeting, I re-engaged in the Faith. They offered a six-week teaching series on the Holy Spirit, and at the end of the series, I asked Jesus to fill me with the Holy Spirit. I experienced a personal pentecost.
- The decision to be a Catholic: I had been away from the Catholic Church for over a dozen years. Experiencing a renewed faith which was very personal, I was attracted to the worship style in evangelical churches. Meanwhile, I found myself in a moral dilemma in which I knew what the Catholic Church taught, but I did not want to follow the teaching. God’s grace helped me to prevail, and I chose to listen to the moral teaching of the Church concerning my situation. I made up my mind to commit to be a Catholic and to follow the teachings of the Church in living my life.
These three decisions vitally impacted my life because they opened the sources of grace that led me into a new life in the Spirit.
Face to Face
I need grace to persevere in the spiritual life. To obey the Father, to follow Jesus, to be led by the Holy Spirit, and to practice the Catholic Faith continue to be daily decisions in my life (imperfectly and many times poorly executed).
We are all made to share in the divine life of the Blessed Trinity. We are created to know, love, and serve God – to live in relationship with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This is God’s generous invitation to us. This life with God frees us to grow in using our gifts and directing our energies to love and serve others day by day. We live in His presence and meet Him face to face in prayer.
In prayer, each of us stands before Jesus, who is the Light that illuminates our soul – to drive away darkness from all its hidden corners. Nothing is shaded. Before Him, our heart draws curtains open, lifts veils, and exposes our deepest wounds, especially the noxious ones. We bare the truth of our heart to Jesus, who is the Truth. Listen to Him. With Him, we walk by faith. In Him is our hope. Through Him, we can truly love.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Is one lifetime enough to requite and reciprocate Infinite Love?
This post also appears in The Well.