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SharingC orner


Many Religions, One Truth

I was fascinated by your book, Embraced By The Light, but I have a disturbing concern I'd love for you to address. I'm Muslim. What do you think would happen to me if I died? Would I come to the Light of God or would I have to meet Christ? This information could affect a lot of religions.

Religion is a personal matter. One's religion, one's faith and beliefs may be influenced by, or even dictated by, a church or other individuals. But deep down in a person's heart of hearts, he cannot be dictated to. Each individual spirit claims the freedom to believe for himself. If we were to analyze each person's deepest beliefs—including assumptions, guesses and hopes—we would never find two people who believe exactly the same thing, even within the same religion. In all the affairs of humankind, matters of faith are intensely subjective and are colored by individual interpretation and desire. Therefore it is safe to say that no two of us believe in exactly the same religion.

God understands this. He is perfectly aware of our diversity of belief. After all, he is the one who drew the veil over our knowledge of him and of the pre-mortal world. By this he ensured mortality as the perfect place for each of us to discover our own natural level of light, knowledge, and spirituality and then to progress beyond that level if we so choose. Without his powerful presence to sway us, we exercise agency to either follow his Spirit or forsake it, to heed the enticing of our own spirit or to ignore it, to seek greater light or to cleave to shadows. Nobody is forced to become faithful or to believe in God.

Each of us makes natural decisions about who and what we are and who and what we will place our faith in. Along the way, we seek out others of similar dispositions, and churches spring up in response. They serve our collective beliefs and needs for fellowship and worship. Throughout history and all across the globe, people of like-minded faith have congregated to unitedly offer thanks and praise to God. They study and share truths as they understand them and rejoice in the portion of the Spirit they receive.

When I entered the spirit world I basked in the love and light of Christ, and at that moment two burning questions arose in my mind. Since I now knew God as a being of unconditional love, I wondered why some religious leaders made him out to be angry and vengeful. And I wanted to know why there were so many different religions. Jesus kindly answered both questions with the same answer.

Each religion on earth, he explained, exists at its own level of truth. Religions mingle truth with man's beliefs. But each religion is important because it unites and nurtures people at a distinct level of spiritual growth. As people explore truths at one level, a desire awakens in them for the next level. And that level—whatever it may be—is the next step in that person's individual growth.

I understood that everything which awakens us to truth is good. And that even the simplest of truths are better than no truth at all. I was told that all truth eventually leads to Christ—even if we have to find him in the next life. Each person returning to the spirit world will come to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he was sent by our Father to restore His truth. Jesus is known by many names around the world, but what we call him is not as important as what he represents, especially in the sacrifice he made to bring us home to our Father. Christ came to earth to take superstition out of religion. Then by dying on the cross, he opened the gateway to heaven, showing that love will ultimately take us all back to the Father. Many faiths on earth do not include Christ but are loved and used by God nevertheless.

Our Father never turns away a person who searches for him. He created our mortal conditions and knows perfectly what we face in sometimes godless circumstances. A person born to a home that does not recognize God is not cursed, but rather blessed with the needed opportunities for growth uniquely available in that home. Any person searching for any degree of light, in any religion or system of belief, is graced by God with opportunities for greater light. To accomplish that, God uses many means. Sometimes he prompts a person toward one religion or another. Sometimes he places teachers of greater knowledge into a religion to raise its level of awareness and growth. His goal is to bring us all to a knowledge of the pure and perfect truth.

Spiritual progression is not a race. We proceed at our own pace. But we should never put it off. By opening ourselves to new truths and greater faith, we increase in light. By becoming more Christ-like in love, we naturally perform purer service for others and thus develop greater peace and confidence within.

Usually God allows our growth to progress naturally. But he knows what's right for us and on occasion quickens our advancement. The surprises at these times can provide lessons for life. One man wrote of such an occasion.

In the eighties I suffered from a massive heart attack, during which I had a near-death experience. It changed my life. I traveled through a very brightly lit tunnel and when I reached the end of it, Jesus was there. He placed his hands on my shoulders and said, "Go back, my son; your work is not done. This would not seem important to you, Betty, in that your experience was so much more intense than mine. But what is different is that I didn't believe in Christ. I am of the Jewish Faith.

It was then that my spiritual journey to him began. At first it was a step by step by step experience. Then I started praying to God, thanking him for each day. This was something I had never done before. I wanted to go back to church, but my new understanding held me back. Later, almost ten years, when my father-in-law died, I read Embraced By The Light, and oh how I was moved! I could not pray enough or show God enough how much I loved him and missed him in my life! Now, this year, I will be baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Church, as a believer in Jesus Christ. I want you to know that your book played an important part in this wonderful time of my life, as did my experience with Christ.

This man's sudden knowledge of Christ changed his life, and now he is entering a new belief system with a portion of truth more comfortable to him because of what he knows. I have received thousands of letters and have met many people who have visited the spirit world and met Christ there as I have. At first I feel great excitement and joy for these people because Christ's love has come into their lives. But as I look deeper, I see that some of them suffer greatly for the changes to their core beliefs. Some churches excommunicate them for their new beliefs—even for their beliefs in Christ. Husbands and wives divorce. Children turn their backs on changed parents. Distrust and suspicion run deep. But do these people turn from their knowledge of Jesus? In all my journeys I have not found a single one—in any religion—who has denied Christ after meeting him on the other side.

Sometimes, as the following letter indicates, the prospect of a new belief system can be frightening, even if the new belief system includes Christ.

My son died suddenly a year ago and I am trying to find something, some belief to comfort me. You speak of Jesus as welcoming you after your death. Where does this leave a person who is Jewish? We do not believe that Jesus is the son of God, but, rather, a man who lived and did good for others. I want so desperately to believe I will be reunited with my son, and I believe your story, but what happens to a person of a different faith from yours?

We need not fear meeting Jesus Christ. Our spirits already know him, and when we meet him again, we will regain that knowledge. Even today our inner voice will speak of him if we open ourselves and listen. Although I had some knowledge of Jesus before my death, I never dreamed he would meet me when I died. But I recognized him at first glance, knowing with a perfect knowledge who he was. All will have that experience at some point. Even while living on earth, we can gain a knowledge of Christ if we desire it. By finding him here, we raise our level of spirituality and power to do good.

God is pouring out knowledge of his Son upon the earth. The Awakening is for all people of all faiths. While in New York recently I met an Iranian Muslim. During the war between Iran and Iraq he was fatally injured. What he experienced on the other side changed him forever. He had believed all his life that Allah, or God, was divine but that Jesus was simply a good man, perhaps a prophet, who had begun a new religion. Now, as he entered the spirit world, he met Jesus and learned that he was more than a prophet; he was the literal Son of God. In amazement he learned from Christ that his lack of understanding did not require forgiveness, that all will yet have the opportunity to learn of him and his teachings. The man was filled with joy and was given a message to bring back to his family and friends, that Jesus Christ awaits us with love and that we will find greater joy in turning to him than in any other way. But they were not receptive. Their families had been Muslim for countless generations, and they were not about to accept the word of a wounded soldier that Christ was the Son of God. His friends and community first turned against him, and then his wife and family left him. But the man knows what he knows, and today in the strength of his unbreakable convictions he shares his knowledge with all who will listen.

Not everyone will meet Christ at the moment of their deaths. In his wisdom he chooses the appropriate messenger to greet us. It may be a family member or an angel, or even a beloved pet—as a few have written to tell me.

It may be a departed religious leader or a magnificent light filled with love. But I have spoken with many who have been there and returned, and most were met by Jesus Christ. Those who had not believed in him before, often came back to find their worlds turned upside down.

One man went through a tunnel with a bright light at the end. Standing in the light was a spirit being. As he drew nearer, the man recognized the being as Jesus Christ. He ran to Him and fell at his feet, repeating over and over how sorry he was that he had forgotten him on earth. Jesus helped him up, took him into his arms and held him like a baby. Christ told him that he loved him and that He was his brother who had died for him. As the man shared this story with me, he wept tears of grief that he could not be with his brother, Jesus Christ, at this time. He retains the memory of Christ's love, and he yearns to be with him again.

I, too, yearn to be with him again, and I often weep for the lack of his love in this world. However disturbing it is to some Christians who reject my story, the light I entered after dying was the light of my brother and Savior and God, Jesus Christ. He is my religion, the one eternal truth that defines all others. In this life or in the next, he will come to each person, and each will know what I know.

Today I completed reading The Awakening Heart. I think my three greatest joys in the book were learning of Holly, of David Stone, and especially of Tom Eadie's awakening to God. My adult road has not always been smooth, and there are times when I know I have not listened to God or worshipped him in the "conventional way" as some church groups stereotypically say we must. Reading your books has helped to show me more positively that, indeed, how we choose to worship is an individual expression, and that we are not to criticize others for their beliefs or lack of them. For those who do not believe in Jesus, I have always prayed that somehow their eyes will be opened. I drew such joy from learning in your books that "nonbelievers" can dwell in the valley until they come to know God's love.

God granted us a miracle a month before my future father-in-law passed away. The night he was taken to the hospital we feared he would die before we could get there to be with him. I was invited into the room to see him, and though he was peaceful, he could barely whisper when he spoke. I told him that I loved him and that I would take care of his son. He responded with, "I love you. Now, go home."

That night, thinking we would not see him again, we all grieved. The next morning our miracle came. He rallied overnight and even talked to his wife on the phone. He said, "I'm gonna live!" When we visited him at the hospital, he was glowing and said, "I love everyone! I even like that guy on the wall!" That guy on the wall was a crucifix of Jesus.

I had just completed reading your first book, Betty, when I felt in my heart that during the night my soon to be father-in-law had met our Lord, and that his statement was his way of letting us know that he was one Jewish person who had seen the Savior. I find much comfort in that. Thank you for sharing with us that all will come to love Jesus, if not here, then in the Valley in his time.

People of all faiths are awakening to Christ. He will never shock people out of their belief systems in a way that will hurt them, but as the world's spiritual Awakening continues, he will deliver his message to more and more people directly. I have discovered that many members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, especially, are now awakening to him at a greater pace than most. This is evidenced by the many letters I continue to receive from them. In the following story, a man who had not known Christ met him after death, then returned to share this knowledge with his son. The son graciously shared the experience with me.

My wonderful dad went to the Lord after battling liver cancer. He was, in this life, Jewish, a soft-spoken, generous man. I asked him to come back to me after he was gone, if he could. I never expected it would happen, but it did. It was not a dream, not a ghost, he was as three-dimensional as you and I. This Jewish man told me about the light. He also told me about Jesus Christ—imagine that—and said that he was happy. I was in awe of all this. I hugged him and he was gone as quickly as he'd come. Never have I seen his face again.

At a Jewish funeral there is no wake, no viewing. I never saw my dad dead. After this baffling experience, I immediately called my mom. I told her what he was wearing: a charcoal-gray pinstriped suit with a light pinstriped shirt and a printed tie. She paused. She told me this is what she buried Dad in. . . .

All people will eventually know Christ as their Savior; "every knee shall bend and every tongue confess," but they shall come to him in love, just as he comes to them. He is kind and merciful, and when he reveals himself in his divine role to anybody, he does so that they might live more fully, that they might grow in love and spiritually, which is the purpose of mortality. However, when I say that we are here to learn and grow spiritually, I do not mean that we have to earn our way back home. None of us can do that. We would have to become perfect in every aspect, and perfection of that nature will not occur here, but later. We can only attempt to become Christ-like here, to become beings of love. Jesus established the way to return to God. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). He opened the gate through his sacrifice and showed the way both through his example and his teachings. He reminds us of our true nature—which is divine—and of our reason for living on earth—which is to mature in our capacity to love.

As our spiritual awareness grows, we must not condemn others who worship differently. The Bible tells a story of Jesus and his disciples traveling among the people, teaching. One day they notice a man using Jesus' name to cast out devils. The disciples stop the man, telling him that he is not a member of their group and therefore should not use their Lord's name. Jesus' response is: "Forbid him not, for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our side. And whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name because you belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward" (Mark 9:38-41). Doctrinal differences should not prevent followers of Christ from loving all people, accepting the good they do, and encouraging more open and helpful fellowship. After all, most of us will experience several religions in our search for truth. At each stop we may discover new truths, new opportunities. Then, if we have grown sufficiently, we may become restless again and open ourselves to yet greater truths. Some will even reach the fullness of truth that is available in life. But, remember, progression is eternal for all souls.

Over the years I've been to the Christian Fellowship, Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Nondenominational, and Unitarian-Universalist churches. Each left me feeling that it wasn't quite right. I had so many questions about God, the meaning of life, the afterlife, reincarnation, the soul, etc. But the answers that were given to me just weren't quite right. I had no true peace. I began studying Taoism and Buddhism, Zen, but those too, just weren't quite right.

In my own past, I too explored various religions that did not satisfy my spiritual needs. I have learned that if we look to religion as the sole House of God, we will find disappointment. Religion can point us to God, but religion does not keep him. Even if we are active in a church and a congregation, we must find our Heavenly Father individually, each for ourselves. And Christ does not love us by the group, but by the individual. He loves us equally, and if we wish to show our love for him, we must learn to love each other equally as well—regardless of religious belief.

Christ said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). However, learning which commandments are his and which are of men can be difficult. For this, we need his Spirit.

I was raised in a very loving Christian home and learned and studied scripture, yet I have always struggled with my own faith and relationship with God. It was drilled into my head that the slightest sin would send me straight to hell and, like you, I feared God, and I rebelled against religion. Yet during my years of rebellion I felt an emptiness and a void in my life.

This is a recurring theme in letters sent to me. One woman described her experience growing up in what she calls a "full gospel church."

As I grew older I heard more and more about God's wrath and how everything, it seemed, was a sin. It was so stifling spiritually—I was always scared that I had done something wrong and God was going to punish me or strike me dead, and the devil would torment me in hell for eternity. I grew up and drifted away from God, although I still feared I would be hit by a car, and before I could beg for forgiveness, I would be cast into the "lake of fire" I had been told about.

This woman goes on to write about the death of her grandfather when she was eight. She had been close to her beloved "Papaw" and was tormented by doubts about his eternal destiny. "I wondered if he had asked Jesus to forgive him, and if he was in heaven. I became consumed with the thought of my Papaw in hell. But he was such a good, loving and wonderful man. I begged God to take him to Heaven." For three days she couldn't sleep. She refused to eat, and her parents became concerned for her health. It wasn't until her grandfather's spirit appeared to her and reassured her that he was happy and that he loved her, that she could continue on with life. But, indoctrinated with such fear of God, she remained tormented by guilt for her own marginal or even imaginary sins. Any feelings of joy in life were quickly drowned by torrents of fear coursing through her. Finally, while reading Embraced By The Light, she felt God's Spirit touch her as she read about his unconditional love for her. Relief swept into her, washing away all fear. Now, a lightness of being she couldn't have imagined before rests upon her, and she takes joy in life, has many happy moments, and finds meaning through serving others in love. She listens to the gentle spirit voice within her instead of to the harsh voice of condemnation so prevalent in the "full gospel church" of her childhood.

Each religion that leads us to God has its place in the world, though some focus on the negative as a motivating force toward obedience. These religions reserve God's love for the righteous few and preach hell as the awful reward for the sinful majority. This kind of preaching may itself be sinful. If so, those who preach such distorted doctrines will certainly be grateful that God will extend his hand to them with as much energy and love as they suppose he reserves only for the righteous.

Some of these distorted views have worked their way into the native peoples of America. In the past century and a half, Native Americans have been grouped onto reservations and told to rely upon the whites for truth and sustenance. Many native children were rounded up and placed in boarding schools that forbade the practice of native languages or customs. The children were forced to conform not only to the dominant culture's language but to its religion as well. These training schools taught the children that God is found in buildings reared to his name, not in the life that surrounds us, that his words come only from men and the printed page and not from the Spirit that breathes life into every soul. These schools did some good, but the spiritual fear and negativity they engendered still haunts the lives of many former students. One Native American man shares his experience this way:

Like you, I too was brought up scared of God. I didn't know or understand why I had to go to a church to find or speak to God, and the times I did, I was very uncomfortable and afraid to move or even look around. I could never hear what the preacher was saying. I learned to be ashamed there, too, because when they brought the offering plate around I didn't have any money to give. It seemed that everyone watched each other place money into it. I remember asking my mother for some money to put into the plate and she usually didn't have anything but pennies. So I would be embarrassed by only having pennies to put in that plate. After a while I quit going because I figured I was too poor and shamed by it.

Another Native American tells how he was driven from God by the intolerance and harshness of well-meaning people.

I am an Ojibwa. I, too, went to a Residential School where I was taught being an Indian was bad. We were segregated from our sisters. Prayer was forced down our throats. When I left, I swore I'd never return to Jesus Christ for anything. I hated everything and anything to do with Christianity. I have felt so very alone all these years.

Last night, for the first time, I laid in bed and had a good cry. I have not shed a tear for so long it felt good. I gave myself up to the Creator and asked for his love. I have not felt this close in his love for so long. I cried and asked my mother who had died many years ago, before I was five, to wait for me. I wanted to see and touch her.

Your book has given me hope that I will see my loved ones, my mother and my Creator. I now ask my angels to care for me and guide me through as I learn to love both myself and others. But most of all, to love my Creator and to make peace and friends with him. Gitchi Meegwetch!!! (A big thank you in Ojibwa).

The suffering which people experience through misguided religious teachings can last a lifetime. In some cases only a powerful experience with the Spirit of God can undo the chasms left in the soul. Fortunately, God is always extending his hand to those who have faith in him. The sins or wounds of the past can always be healed through truth and forgiveness.

Gratefully, God's love fills many religions and many houses of worship. The example of Christ in loving and helping one another is followed in countless congregations and lived in millions of lives. This young woman's family never went to church until the kindness of a local congregation changed all that:

The summer after I graduated, our air conditioner overheated, and our house burned to the ground. The little Baptist church in this very small community did everything they could for us. They took up a love offering, donated clothes and other items, volunteered their time to help clean up the mess, and opened their homes when we needed a place to stay. We then became members of this loving church family. We were faithfully there every time the doors opened.

This loving congregation taught the Lord's message by practicing it, and there is no greater way to teach it. God always provides the means for us to approach him. Whether through a person, a church, or a stranger, he will seek to bring us closer to him. A religion therefore can become a life jacket, holding a person's head above roiling waters. We must never deprecate this life jacket by ridiculing or attacking another's faith. This offends the same Spirit that seeks to lift others to new truths. Love, meekness, and patience are the tools of the Spirit—and are the Spirit's messengers.

But what of those who turn from the Spirit in their lives? Do they consign themselves to hell? Our preachers who teach hell so eloquently don't preach without reference; the Bible itself refers often to hell. Jesus said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. . . . Ye, serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matthew 23:15, 33). Jesus did not mince words with the misguided spiritual leaders of his time. In calling them the children of hell, he knew far better than they what this means.

Hell is a translation of the Hebrew word Sheol, or the Greek word Hades, meaning underworld. The term hellfire most likely comes from atrocities committed in the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem where a sect of idolatrous Jews burned children as religious offerings. The children's suffering left indelible impressions on those who watched. Afterwards the site became a garbage dump which burned, seemingly, without ceasing. The terms "eternal fire" and "hellfire" may come from this. But in speaking of hell, Christ did not refer to an actual pit of fire on the other side of death, but rather to a state of being. Hell is the absence of God, a void of light and truth. Spirits who find themselves in this void have placed themselves there by choosing separation from God. Most of us experience periods in life when we feel as though God has abandoned us. During such times our thoughts become dark and confused, and we feel spiritual and even physical pain. But these feelings result from our own thoughts, imaginations and misunderstandings. God does not abandon us. When we feel this way, we must take responsibility ourselves. Our hell ends when we return to God.

Many people have experienced a portion of hell after death and have returned to describe it. Interestingly, no two experiences seem to be alike. In one letter, a woman writes about her turbulent and fear-filled life and then describes her death. Upon dying, she entered into the initial black void where peace and love filled her and convinced her that heaven actually existed. As the beauty and power of heaven became certain, she suddenly feared it, feeling unworthy of its pureness and incredible light. Within moments she plummeted into a dark and bottomless pit—a place which matched her own feelings of self-worth. Then her sufferings began.

My whole body felt the pain of burning. There was no flame, no light, just the horrible pain of burning! I heard the anguished screams of others combined with my own. I couldn't see anything in the darkness . . . just falling, burning and screaming in torment. I was in hell! I felt that even God didn't enter into this damned place, and that he didn't even know I was there. I had a lifetime to prepare for this day—God had already given me every opportunity to believe—but I had chosen the way of unbelief. Mostly I had relied on myself in life and done things my way, making myself god over my life. I knew that God had not sent me to hell, but that I had sent myself. Terror consumed me as I realized there was no way out, no way to stop the anguish, pain, and horror of hell. This was for eternity. I couldn't even commit suicide. No one could help me. I would fall and burn forever and ever and ever!

Then my thoughts went to God, and I realized that I did believe in him and that I was terribly sorry, not just for the torment of hell, but because I no longer was able to be close to him. The peace, the love, the joy I had experienced just moments before would never be there again. At this point I wanted nothing but to be with God.

Then it stopped. I felt the peace of God again. And then, shortly after that, I felt life returning.

Because this woman had removed herself from God during her life, in death she judged herself undeserving of heaven's love and beauty. She determined that God's love did not extend to her, and she plunged into the hell she felt worthy of. But God's love did extend to her, even in that dark pit, and the moment she realized she needed him, he rescued her from agony.

Jesus taught that "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7:2). This is frightening to consider. How many of us offer the same compassion to others as we might one day, or one eternity, wish for ourselves? During a television interview I had, a woman in the audience became angry with me because my version of hell did not go far enough to suit her tastes. She demanded that a hell of fire and eternal suffering exist to consume all who fall short of God's grace. Perhaps she should be careful what she wishes for—and how she judges those who fall short, in her eyes, of God's grace.

Here's another letter indicating the negativity we can create for ourselves on the other side.

In my life, much of the teaching I received about the Lord was done through fear, such as "If you don't go to church you'll go to hell."I got involved with drugs in my teens, and at seventeen ended up getting in a near-fatal auto accident. My body lay in a field for some time before I was found, and it was then that I had my experience.

I found myself above the earth, suspended in the universe. I sensed a oneness with all Creation, and during this sense of awe, a kind voice spoke to me calling me by name and said, "Are you willing to receive me?" I asked who he was, and he said, "This is Jesus who is speaking to you." Then thoughts rushed through my mind of what my friends thought. They thought that anyone who believed in Jesus or God were Jesus-freaks. After just thinking these thoughts, though not saying a word, I found I was slammed into this tunnel.

It began with marvelous lights shooting around me and then I was literally dumped, like falling out of a laundry shoot, into a cavern that was very ancient. It wasn't very long before I realized where I was. There were all forms of ghoulish creatures there, demonic. I couldn't stand still, for there were worms and snakes everywhere. Then the torturers began to chase me, screaming my name as I ran from them. I pleaded for the Lord, Jesus, to deliver me, and he heard me.

"And he heard me." What glorious words. Our thoughts and words and actions may place us in hell, but Christ is always aware of us, extending his arms, waiting for us to call upon him, to be converted to him and his truths. In every negative near-death experience I know about, it is the person's own fear and guilt that defined and created the suffering. Hell is a tool. It is real. In God's hand, it can provide a crucial, if painful, learning experience. The length and intensity of the experience is determined by us—by our accepting God's love or rejecting it. In my opinion, the sooner the better!

Let us not judge others or wish punishment upon them. If we follow Christ's example—as it says in Matthew 5:44—we will love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them which despitefully use us and persecute us. In my experience I saw that God allows his children to bathe in a realm of loving darkness for as long as they want to before returning to him. I bathed in this love until a beam of light reached me, and when I went toward that light, I went because I wanted to. I saw that some could not or would not move toward the light. Perhaps murderers, rapists, and others who refuse to accept God's truth and love are among the lost sheep that Christ will yet rescue and hold close until they heal. A transformation of soul must occur before they will feel comfortable among beings of light. God's tenacious love can cause this transformation, but the person must be willing to accept it. And only when he truly accepts it will his desire naturally draw him toward the light.

The truth will set us free when we are ready to accept it.

We hold the keys to prison's door and heaven's gate. When will we choose to learn within the perfect love and light of God? As soon as we do, we throw off our shackles of fear and guilt. By turning the key to heaven, by desiring to enter therein, we allow our Savior to reach us, to save us, to teach us how to become more like him.

I am grateful for his love and understanding, for his tolerance and patience. His perfection is no longer the source of my despair, but of my hopes—because he knows me and loves me just as I am. As I feel his invitation to draw near him, I recognize that all the love and joy I once felt in his presence can be mine again. I don't need to be perfect to be helped—I only need to want the help. He is ready to claim me from any trouble, from any despair, from any hell if I will turn and move toward his light.

This is my religion: that Jesus Christ lives, that he died to open the way for us all to live with God again, and that doing his will in mortality will bring us closer to him both here and in eternity. I willingly open my heart to accept his love, and I expect to receive it, in all its fullness, when I meet him again.

—The Ripple Effect, pages 108-124

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