For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:4-5
St. Paul is writing about how our earthly bodies are like tents, a temporary dwelling that we are not completely happy in. The trials of this world press in. They burden us. Paul tells us that leaving this earthly tent – dying – is being released from our mortality and coming fully alive!
I was discussing near-death experiences with a friend this week. I started on the subject, not sure where she stood. She believes these experiences are real and not the delusions of a dying mind. She told me about a Netflix series, Surviving Death. It’s not a religiously oriented series. One episode apparently deals with reincarnation. Another examines mediums.
There’s no room for reincarnation biblically. Mediums? There has been so much fakery in this area that I have a hard time believing any of it is real. Many mediums renowned in their day turned out to be fakes by their own admission.
However, I won’t discount that some are genuine. The Bible warns against consulting them, so I say leave that area alone.
The show interviewed both scientists and researches as well as those who had near-death experiences. I found it interesting that academics are taking it seriously. Some have been studying the event for 40 and 50 years! One scientist commented that many scientists dismiss the experiences as simply anecdotal. His response is that all science starts with anecdotes that eventually show a pattern that can be investigated.
Another admitted that, “There are things that science can’t test but do happen.”
One of the near-death accounts came from a woman who was on a kayaking expedition in Chile. She’s a doctor herself, a spinal surgeon. Her group was approaching some falls and were going to take a milder series of drops instead of plunging over the big fall itself. Someone got sideways at the entrance to that route, forcing her over the big fall. She was trapped in the undertow in ten feet of water. She felt her leg bones snapping and tendons tearing. She knew she was drowning.
A few of her comments are worth noting:
“I could feel my spirit peeling off my body.”
“I felt more alive than I ever have.” This one has echoes of St. Paul above – further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
“I experienced all of eternity in every second.” This reminded me of my conversation with another who had a near-death experience. He said that he knew everything in the entire universe at once. No one told him everything; he was simply a part of it all and understood it. See Perfect Love.
The woman tells of how she was without oxygen for thirty minutes. Her group eventually gave up hope that they could rescue her. Their mentality turned into simple body recovery. One of them saw her life vest and swam to get it, bumping into her body and grabbing it.
She said she was bloated, blue, and her eye were fixed. She was dead. No mistake. She could see from where she was in some sort of spiritual realm that her friends were trying to revive her. She was told she had more to do on earth and that she had to go back.
They were able to revive her and get her to a hospital hours later. It took several surgeries to repair her legs and months of therapy to learn to walk again.
There was absolutely no brain damage! None! As a doctor, she says that there was no way she should have survived at all, let alone come back with a completely healthy mind!
One researcher noted that these sorts of experiences have been growing dramatically since resuscitative medicine started taking hold in the 60’s and 70’s. Near-death experiences were starting to pour in.
However. Dr. Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychologist at the University of Cambridge, saw it as something strictly American, especially in California. It would never happen in Britain.
“We were far too sensible to have experiences like that.”
But he then had a patient come in to tell him about his near-death experience. Fascinated, he decided this had to be decided scientifically. He’s been studying it for 50 years now. He says that oxygen starvation can’t possibly cause a near-death experience.
“You cannot maintain consciousness, unless you have a highly organized brain.” He goes on to note that a mere 20 seconds without oxygen, and the brain starts flat lining. There’s no way a brain in that disorganized state can maintain consciousness. He wonders now if there isn’t an expansion of consciousness when we die, based on the thousands of accounts he has studied.
I would cautiously recommend seeing at least the first episode. Again, nothing there is biblically based. I was simply fascinated by the number of comments that seem to echo biblical truths.