From dark to light: isn’t that what Lent is all about?
We see the same with those who have clinically succumbed — passed from the physical world — and been revived only to describe precisely how, in cases where they were headed to hell, or a very dark part of purgatory, they were finally saved — resurrected — by His Light.
Remarkable it is how, in particular, the testimonies of three men — Shawn Weed, a former Marine who was asphyxiated; Ian McCormack, a scuba diver who was “fatally” stung by a jellyfish; and Dr. Howard Storm, the atheist-turned-preacher who died from a ruptured duodenum — coincide with each other.
Weed, from rural Louisiana, whose testimony can be viewed below, found himself in a huge place of utter darkness but for the dim light of his own tainted soul. He calls it “hell.” And so perhaps it was — for he says a towering, impossibly tall entity with tusks curling from its mouth like a boar, black-red skin, and yellow reptilian eyes, immediately came to drag him to what the ancients called Sheol. Weed felt the place had a floor and ceiling somewhere, but couldn’t tell how low or high they were — so vast was the area, and so dark — but could see the horrible thing that had grasped his shoulder and neck with massive hands and fingers more than a foot long. Raised Baptist, the Marine was rescued when suddenly, like a light “in the faroff night sky,” came a “blinding” force that reached down to him.
It was the Archangel Michael, says this at-the-time lapsed Baptist, shoving back the demon and raising Shawn from the dark place and back to life.
Dr. Storm — at the time an art professor from Northern Kentucky University — found himself on a foggy path that kept descending toward what he said was “the cesspool of the universe.” As demonic creatures ripped at him, he finally called to Jesus and as with Weed, saw a light he took to be a comet coming from the darkness at such speed he thought he would be annihilated.
The light hovered above Storm and drew him up. The Light, he says, was Jesus, Who spoke to him before putting him in the company of several angels. We read in Scripture, “And when the sixth hour had come, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour” (Mark 15:33). That was the Crucifixion. Afterward came the light of Resurrection.
And then McCormack.
“I seemed to arrive in a huge, broad place like a cavernous hall of pitch-black darkness,” he has testified. “I was standing up. It was as if I had woken up from a bad dream in someone else’s house, and was wondering where everyone had gone.
“I was trying to find the light switch, and I couldn’t seem to find it. I wondered why the doctor had turned the lights out. I was trying to touch something, reaching for the wall lamp but I couldn’t find it.
“Then I realized I couldn’t find my bed. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face and it was bitterly cold. I lifted my hand up to find out how much I could see. I lifted it to where my face was and it went straight through where my face should have been.
“It was a terrifying experience. I was in the most frightening place I’ve ever been. There was no relationship to time in that place. The people there couldn’t tell what time it was. They couldn’t tell whether they had been there ten minutes, ten years, and ten thousand years. They had no relationship to time. It was a frightening place. It was the scariest and the most terrifying place I have ever been in. I would never wish that even my worst enemy went to hell.
“Then a brilliant light shone upon me and literally drew me out of the darkness.
“As I stood there an amazing beam of light pierced through the darkness from above me and shone on my face. This light began to encompass me and a sense of weightlessness overwhelmed me. I lifted off the ground and began to ascend up into this brilliant white light, like a speck of dust caught in a beam of sunlight.”
Again, it was Jesus.
What drew these three men from the darkness?
In Storm’s case, admitting there was — and calling out to — God.
In Weed’s case: pure Grace. God’s Divine Mercy.
In McCormack’s case: reciting the Lord’s Prayer from the heart and really meaning every word, especially what it says about forgiveness.
Let this be the Lenten lesson for the day: the importance of forgiveness if we want to go into the Light.
[resources: The Other Side and What You Take To Heaven; also: Michael Brown retreat: the afterlife, prophecy, Chicago May 4)
[Shawn’s description of the demon begins at about thirty minutes into the video]