3/2/13 Gary about 55
It was getting late in the evening, and after working all day and spending time with my family I hadn’t yet reached out to someone new in a Gospel conversation. This is my daily goal and it has been a huge blessing to me and, hopefully, to those I talk with, so I headed over to a nearby Starbucks where I found a man named Gary who had quite a story to tell. In his 20’s he was serving in the Special Forces, and on a routine sky diving training jump his parachute failed to open. He landed in a stream bed and was later declared dead by a field doctor. During this time he had an out-of-body experience in which he could see and hear people working on him, trying to save him, and also during which he reviewed his life. They covered his body with his parachute, and while they tried to figure out what to do he eventually revived. As he later talked with people he realized he had seen and heard things that he couldn’t possibly have known had this just been a psychological experience; he believes his spirit actually went places separate from his body. This experience has left him with an unshakeable belief in a spiritual and eternal dimension to life, but, unfortunately, not to a saving faith in Jesus. After the military Gary became a Chicago police officer and now works as a homicide detective. As he described his spiritual beliefs I could see that the same eye for detail, careful consideration of every possible angle, and maybe a jaded suspicion of human nature that he must use as a detective also affects his view of the Bible and his relationship with God. He is suspicious of the origins of the Bible and looks for additional sources of spiritual truth. Like so many people, he seems to be attracted more to the religious writings that were not included in the canon of scripture than the ones that are. He is particularly attracted to Gnosticism, with its lure of “secret knowledge”. It reminds me of the original sin of Adam and Eve who looked past all the fruit trees that they could eat from and focused on the one that was forbidden. Gary and I talked until closing time. All of his suspicions and over-analytical thinking made it a frustrating conversation, but I believe God spared his life and woke him up to the reality of eternity on that day when his parachute failed for a reason, and His work in Gary’s life is not yet finished.