In was in Budapest, Hungary around 1996 and I was sharing my faith with a young man, endeavoring to bring him to belief in Jesus. I told him about the spiritual experiences I’d had which helped me to come to have faith, some of which were fairly strange.
And one point he said to me, “I know, I know. I saw ‘Ghost’”. I was struck by this. He was talking about a movie from a few years before which, to my mind, gave a very interesting portrayal of the realities of the spiritual world, at least in a Hollywood-originated movie.
In the movie,”Ghost“, the main actor, played by Patrick Swayze, is suddenly murdered while out with his girlfriend, played by Demi Moore. The movie then goes with him into the spiritual world where he’s what we’d call a ghost, disembodied from his former self but still living in this world, unseen by mortals.
It’s a fascinating movie with great acting, romance, suspense, humor and an intriguing narrative. But the reason I’m writing this is how one scene or character so strongly impacted me when I was seeing it at that time.
I won’t go into the details but in the 80’s and early 90’s I had two traumatic life events that were unexpected, deeply unwanted and which could have even snuffed out my life. They left me gasping for breath spiritual and emotionally for a long period of time.
For me, what was needed was deep and total spiritual and emotional healing if these events were not to be the effective end of my life. My personal life as a disciple of Christ and as a happy, complete human being was in danger of being ended through trauma over these two events.
So it was with great interest that I viewed one portion of the movie “Ghost”. Patrick Swayze’s character had had one or two encounters with other beings in the spiritual world who could see him and communicate with him, which normal humans could not.
At one point on an underground subway, he encounters what can only be considered a ghost. This very belligerent ghost claimed ownership of the subway Patrick Swayze was travelling on. With great difficultly Patrick Swayze engages in a dialog with this angry ghost, trying to find out how the ghost can do things and use spiritual powers that he had which Patrick Swayze didn’t have.
But in the conversation, it comes out that this ghost had either jumped off a platform of the subway to commit suicide or that he’d been pushed. One way or the other, he was not at all settled with the events of his life and was extremely unresolved, unrepentant, unforgiving and basically stuck in eternity with his anger, bitterness and unreconciled life.
At the time this spoke to me so much; it almost screamed at me, haunted me and scared the hell out of me. I saw so clearly how this ghost had gone out of this life and into eternity without restitution or reconciliation with those around him or with the events of his life. It was a very great provocation to me to not let my life become like that ghost. I saw how I must do all I could to find peace with God concerning the events that had happened to me. A not famous but powerful verse spoke to me when I thought of the lesson of what I’d seen in that movie, “Whosoever’s sins you remit, they shall be remitted and whosoever sins you retain, they shall be retained.” (John 20:23)
That evil ghost was living in anger and bitterness about the things that others had done to him in his life, retaining the sins committed against him. And he went into eternity with those grudges, bitterness and lack of forgiveness or reconciliation. I also knew of situations that had happened in my grandparent’s and great grandparent’s lives where divisions, cruelty and unresolved animosity had stayed that way for 60 years or more. I saw the results of things that had happened in 1915 which were still causing divisions, hostility and damage 50 years later, when I was a teenager.
It was all something the Lord was using to impress on me the urgency and the essentialness of reconciliation and healing from bitterness or being captured by some traumatic event in my life. Happily I can say I really feel I was able to have the heart washing and deliverance that was needed so that I could go on with my life in the blessing of God, not defeated or captured by events of my past.
But it was a searing, grave warning that I feel I was only barely able to make it through by the grace of God. And, sadly, I know right now today many who’ve been through similar things who perhaps have not really been able to survive it. Some incredible injustice, some betrayal by ones they loved most, some disappointment that effectively ended their hopes, dreams and even their belief in God.
If any of this rings a bell with you, think about going into the afterlife and still having those unresolved bitternesses, grudges and unreconciled events following you right along into eternity. If that’s you, I implore you to do what you can to “First be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). Or if nothing else, at least be sure you have peace with God about any unresolved, horrific events of your life that may haunt you into eternity unless you find or make peace with God and others.