“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:45-46
When we talk of Near Death Experiences, we typically are talking about someone who died and then returned from physical death. There are books on the subject, autobiographical accounts of people going to heaven and meeting relatives, Jesus, or God. They are told it isn’t their time, and, much to their disappointment, they come back to earth and their bodies.
A man at my church had such an experience. He spoke of a place of incredible beauty and peace, such as he never could have known, nor now describe. His tears and sincerity were beyond question.
Try the book “23 Minutes in Hell.” A Christian man describes how God put him in hell for 23 minutes (why 23? How did he know? Get the book). The detail, the presentation, the time frames…it all rang true to me.
But here’s the problem. I could discount all of it. You could too. You’ve heard the arguments: Near Death Experiences are the misfiring neurons, the delusions of a dying brain. Anyone who’s written about their experience of visiting heaven or hell could be branded a fraud, a cynic preying upon desperate souls to make a buck.
None of us can get inside these peoples’ heads and KNOW if they are telling the truth. Nor can we verify if what they believe is real. It’s in their heads, and, except for the words coming out of their mouths, in their heads is exactly where all of this is staying. This isn’t The Matrix, and we can’t plug in to verify anything.
In the last year or so, I have been looking for instances where God’s Word visibly and/or scientifically intersects our known world. I’ve found some amazing information, mostly based on scientific inquiry, that shows how true the bible is. These will be discussed in blogs to come.
But for now, I want to redefine Near Death Experiences. Let’s forget about the experiences people say they have when they die, and then relate to us when they come back. Let’s talk about people who have not yet died, but have been near to death when it occurs. That kind of Near Death Experience. The following are stories that have been told to me many years apart in very different circumstances. All are first-hand accounts.
I was a communications instructor at Lourdes College in Sylvania, OH many years ago. I taught Interpersonal Communications, amongst other things. I had a lot of nurses in my classes, because the nursing program they were in at Lourdes made my class a requirement for them.
I heard a number of stories from stuff that happens in hospitals. Most come from the ER, and are hugely entertaining simply due to the sheer shock of the situations people can get themselves into. They aren’t too different from the proverbial train wreck you can’t look away from. If you’ve ever worked in a hospital, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
One serious story stood out. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it. It isn’t gross, it isn’t funny. It’s just chilling, so please read on.
One of my nursing students – let’s call her Linda – told me about one night shift she worked. One of the patients was terminal and had a no-code (no rescue if she goes). The old woman was expected to die that night. It was deep night. No one was around but staff. Linda went in the room to check on the woman.
She was shocked to see a white bird on the woman’s chest. The bird looked at her and took off, flying past her and out the door, into the hall. Linda ducked, felt the bird go by, and bustled into the hall. It was gone. No trace. She went back and quickly checked on the woman, who was now dead.
Linda went back to the hall. Still no bird. A cleaning woman was pushing her cart down the hallway. Linda asked her if she saw a bird flying around. No. No bird out here. Linda then told her what happened. The old woman smiled.
“Oh, honey! You done seen the Dove. The Dove comes sometimes when folks dies to take their souls to heaven. Yes. You seen the Dove. I seen it too. A few times.”
Yeah, I know. Sounds like a campfire story, told with a flashlight under my chin. But I didn’t hear this from someone whose third cousin’s barber’s step-grandchild experienced this. It was first hand. Linda had no reason to tell me this other than to share an experience that blew her mind. She wanted to share. I think she wanted to unload, to tell someone just so she could hear it out loud and not think she’s nuts.
My pastor from church in Toledo years ago told me about his Near Death Experiences as he sat by people on their death beds. Mostly, people passed with no attending event. But sometimes, one of two things happened. He gave me one example of each. Both patients were comatose.
First was a woman from another church he had been pastor at who had been in a coma for a few days. The end was expected now at any moment. This woman, who hadn’t moved on her own in days, whose already aged body had been atrophying, suddenly sat up, a look of joy on her face. She reached out as though welcoming someone. Then she lay back and expired peacefully.
The second example was someone who had also been in a coma and in similar straits. This was someone who was a relative of a church member and was not a church-goer. Pastor had agreed to go sit with his member in the relative’s room at this trying hour. At the moment of this person’s death, the individual became restless. The face contorted in fear, and the arms came up in a defensive posture, as fearful sounds came out. The individual acted as though being confronted with something terrible and trying to fend it off.
My pastor’s take? The first woman saw Jesus at the moment of her death and reached out to Him and the comfort He brought her. The second individual, after a life of rejecting God, saw hell and demons.
Remember; both people had been comatose for a time. If you’ve ever lain in a hospital for very long, moving around gets a bit difficult. You get weak like that. Both of these people moved well. The old lady essentially did a sit-up.
None of these are stories one person claims to have experienced, unwitnessed by no one else. These are not events that someone said happened in their heads. These are occurrences that were witnessed by people who did not have oxygen-starved brains that could be said to be hallucinating. All first-hand accounts to me. None solicited by me. All came out of other conversations, segues from other topics.
Any of these can be poo-poohed. I’m aware of that. I also know that nurses and medical people see a lot in hospitals that they don’t talk about outside of the hospital Maybe they don’t want to be called crazy. Maybe they fear for their jobs. Maybe they don’t want to believe what they see. I know others who have told me they’ve seen things, and they just don’t want to talk about them. But, yeah; stuff happens.
So these are what I call Near Death Experiences. Events witnessed by the living as they watch death occur.
Just like a lot of science that discovers facts to support the bible, these stories don’t make the news. Either people don’t want to be ridiculed, or the secular media just doesn’t want to talk about anything that could argue against evolution, anything that brings God to our attention.
POST SCRIPT: I have written a “bank” blog entries against those weeks when the creative juices run dry. I wrote this weeks ago, but I’m motivated to post it now due to an article I just read on line in The London Daily Mail. It is extracts from a book that is about exactly this topic; people near death as it occurs, witnessing peoples’ dying actions and words. The book is due out within the week: Opening Heaven’s Door by Patricia Pearson. Here is the link:
Also, here is a book I recently bought regarding Near Death Experiences written by a neurologist who died and recovered: Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander. I’m not 100% on this one for my own reasons, but I’ll let you decide.
What do YOU think? Are there any medical folks or others who want to tell their tales? I want to hear from you. So do other readers!