Every Good Friday, as it is termed, my thoughts turn to my experience on April 22, 2011. That was the date of Good Friday of that year. People immediately surrounding me–those I love most dearly—might, with a roll of eyes, get tired of hearing it. Some jokingly tell me so, although I think they are glad to still have me hanging around.
Perhaps you, too, are tired of my again writing about it. Makes no difference. The experience is just too powerful to suppress. It is with me constantly. It leaps to my mind at times completely unrelated to thinking on things of the Bible–of the God I serve. I am immediately, on those occasions, drawn deeply into concentration upon what it was all about, asking myself through spiritual, inner-self search what it meant.
I’m talking about the widow-maker heart attack on that day in 2011. Each time my heart stopped, I was immediately with many young, heavenly beings–men and women who looked to be in their mid-twenties. I say “looked”—and that in itself is profound. I’ve been totally blind since around 1994 due to a retinal disease, yet when my heart stopped I saw more clearly than with 20/20 vision.
The matter is further powerful in implication because, according to medical records, I died clinically three times that day. At least I joined those young beings on three separate occasions. This, to me, has great significance, as the Lord Jesus was in the tomb three days before resurrecting to life.
The third time we were running a victory lap, and I was among them, with them looking at me with expressions of jubilation on their faces. I know now that we were running a victory lap after the race of completing work done in life–toward the throne of God. It was Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1–3.
Only my work was and is not yet done. There is more to do, and writing articles such as this one is proof that I haven’t yet completed that race all of us who belong to Christ are running.
Some–especially of the most biblically centered among my circle—are very skeptical about such…experiences. I admit to my own skepticism prior to my…experience. I’m still skeptical, I must admit, about some reports on near-death experiences. All I can truly know is my own truth–which it is God’s truth, because I lived through it.
This is not resurrection I’m reporting do have done. That glorious moment is ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ alone. This was simply a brief glimpse into Heaven–for God’s own reasons—that awaits all who believe in their spiritual hearts that Jesus was crucified for us, was buried, and took up His life again on Resurrection Day–the third day after He said “It is finished.”
My experience, I am assured in my spirit, was given so that I might continue to spread the word about hope–particularly about the coming Rapture and the Blessed Hope, who is Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He promised, “Whoever believes in me will never die.”
That is why we can agree with Paul the apostle, who tells us that “to die is gain.” Physical death instantaneously puts us into eternal life–and I can testify to that truth because I was immediately within the heavenly realm the moment my heart stopped each time.
Here are Paul’s words.
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:20–24)
There is great interest in the afterlife, with presentations of near-death experiences that are fodder for programs that can be considerably over-exaggerated in many instances. But there are serious studies now being done by some of the top scientists and others on the phenomenon of near-death experiences. That’s why I include the following excerpt recounting such studies.
Scientific advances in the 20th and 21st centuries have led to a major evolution in the understanding of death. At the same time, for decades, people who have survived an encounter with death have recalled unexplained lucid episodes involving heightened consciousness and awareness. These have been reported using the popular—yet scientifically ill-defined—term “near-death experiences.”
A multidisciplinary team of national and international leaders, led by Sam Parnia, MD, PhD, director of the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Research Program at NYU Langone, have published “Guidelines and standards for the study of death and recalled experiences of death,” a multidisciplinary consensus statement and proposed future directions in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. This study, which examined the accumulated scientific evidence to date, represents the first-ever peer-reviewed consensus statement for the scientific study of recalled experiences surrounding death…
Among their conclusions are the following:
- Due to advances in resuscitation and critical care medicine, many people have survived encounters with death or being near-death. These people—who are estimated to comprise hundreds of millions of people around the world based on previous population studies—have consistently described recalled experiences surrounding death, which involve a unique set of mental recollections with universal themes.
- The recalled experiences surrounding death are not consistent with hallucinations, illusions, or psychedelic drug–induced experiences, according to several previously published studies. Instead, they follow a specific narrative arc involving a perception of (a) separation from the body with a heightened, vast sense of consciousness and recognition of death; (b) travel to a destination; (c) a meaningful and purposeful review of life, involving a critical analysis of all actions, intentions, and thoughts towards others; a perception of (d) being in a place that feels like “home”; and (e) a return back to life.
- The experience of death culminates into previously unidentified, separate subthemes and is associated with positive long-term psychological transformation and growth. (“Recalled Experiences Surrounding Death: More Than Hallucinations?” NYU Langone News, April 12, 2022)
All of this has me thinking upon our recent celebration of Christ’s resurrection and my Good Friday experience those years ago. I sometimes think, with comforting expectation, that within one heartbeat moment I could again be running toward my Savior and God’s throne among that heavenly throng of joyous young, heavenly beings–young men and women who were gloriously handsome and beautiful. I think on how, at my advanced age and the nearness of the Rapture, my odds are greatly increased to again be in that heavenly presence, if there is such a thing as “odds” in considering heavenly matters involving life and death. In that sense, and not meaning to be morbid in saying it, I can definitely understand what Paul meant when he told us “to die is gain.”