“If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow completely into Christ, who is the head.” Ephesians 4:15
This is about a man who, as one of the fortunate few, experienced truth in the loving, radiant presence of Jesus during a “temporary separation from earth.” Jesus and His love became present to him and changed his life forever.
After serving in Korea as an Army lieutenant, Robert Gerald Guillerman, Sr., while still in his 30s, became an insulin-dependent diabetic. With extremely elevated triglycerides and high cholesterol – and no medicines at the time to treat him – he also developed severe coronary artery disease.
He became a pharmacist under the GI bill. He wanted the good life to provide for his wife and their four young children. Instead, depression set in along with discomfort and shortness of breath.
His first open-heart surgery 10 years later went well. But there were complications with the second surgery and his heart stopped.
Suddenly, he found himself in the presence of Jesus in a white robe, much as depicted in children’s Catechism books. God enveloped Robert with so much warmth and love.
In a letter to his aunt four years later, Robert tried to explain: “The presence of Jesus was magnificent, leaving an indelible effect on my mind. The feeling I had at the time is beyond my ability to describe. But, if you thought back to times when you felt your best, multiplied that by 10 or perhaps 100 times, you would then have somewhat of an idea of what it was like.”
He was mostly reluctant to share details of his encounter because, he said, “most people are turned off whenever the subject of religion is mentioned.”
In that letter, he disclosed just enough of his astonishment and subsequent transformation in a deeply personal story. He was simply overwhelmed by such intense feelings of joy and love.
Robert found great peace, he said, “which came through the grace of God.” Jesus had come to him at a time of great discouragement and sadness. God strengthened his faith to deal with his illness. Jesus placed his hand on Robert’s wrist and spoke three words. Then he was gone.
Robert was at the ceiling, out of his body, looking down at the hospital room, the attendants and other patients. For what felt like hours following his encounter with Jesus, Robert had an “indescribable feeling.” The Light of Jesus had fully permeated his soul.
He now knew perfect love and that was what he felt for everyone. He became aware of what he called the “terrible confusion in the world, the drive for false goals of material success, and what one must expose oneself to do in order to attain them.” The truth Robert discovered was that man, even with his sinful nature, is basically good. Man has a redeemable quality made possible by Christ’s coming to earth and dying so our sins would be washed away.
After surgery, Robert began distributing Bibles. He wanted people to know the faith he had known, which he said “could only come through knowledge of Jesus and the Bible.” He advised everyone to read and re-read the New Testament until its truth sinks in. “A person can spend years studying this book and still pick it up and find new truth revealed,” he said. “But once the knowledge is secured, one desires to pattern his life after Christ so that he can attain the perfect peace with Him in the life hereafter.”
Robert died two years after surgery while awaiting a third. He told his family, “Jesus is just around the corner waiting personally for you.”
And, they knew, of course, he was speaking from personal experience.