What if — just if — when we die, and we look at our lives through the Eyes of God, there are going to be a number of surprises: that matters we thought to be of much gravity, worldly ones, are not of so much gravity, it turns out, while other things we neglected or never thought of as “sin” are.
An example comes to us from the putative near-death experience of a man named John Calvert. In 1993 he was painting houses in Auburn, Pennsylvania, during a severe heat wave (heat index, up on that ladder, he says, of more than a hundred) when he collapsed and slipped over to the other side. Suddenly John was in a place that was “lightning bright” — the Presence of God. “I could see myself as He sees me, I had His perspective,” testifies Calvert — rather convincingly (though we must always discern). “He could see through me like I was glass, and it was awful because I could see all the guilt that I carried, the fear, the intimidation, the vanity, the pride, the isolation, the loneliness, the desperate anger, the selfishness, the nothingness that my life had become.”
What Calvert learned — and quickly — was that there had never been any need for the anger, for the fear. He also saw what he had done to others — how he had made them think and feel. Now, he felt it, experiencing the “fear intimidation, neglect, sarcasm, harsh criticism, coarse jokes, ridicule. I saw their faces and I felt what I had put them through, at that point. I was made to feel everything and it came all at once.” Consider how many these days harshly criticize and ridicule others.
“I heard a Voice say, ‘You have not fulfilled your purpose here,’ and I said, ‘What was my purpose?’ I truly had no clue. This Voice said, ‘The same as every man. You were put on the earth to take care of the earth.’ I came to find out that Adam did tend the Garden and keep it before he was fallen. [The Voice] said, ‘You are not to strip-mine the earth, you are not to pollute the earth. You’re not to destroy your home.’ But I was being invited, because I was one who had littered, who didn’t care about nature and environment at all, and this is a beautiful home that God had created for me. ‘Secondly, you are here for the animals. They look up to you. You’re the one with the spirit, with reason, with intelligence, with the strength to change things and the ability to protect them.’” There were many other things. The key: how he had helped or hurt other humans. “I had no compassion for animals or men.”
This of course flies in the face of much current thinking, even on the religious right — which is almost to disdain care for His Creation. Perhaps we need to take another look.
At any rate: many surprises. It is wise to begin each day asking the Lord to show us how He sees us and to realize now what is realized, in many matters, later, in what some call a “life review” and other simple evaluation (done with His Love) or “judgment.”