Being Released

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. 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.

A Life Saved by Death

22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’     Luke 16:22-24

Does God exist? There are a great many proofs in this world that He does.  His fingerprints are all over creation, both in the complexity of all that exists, from the subatomic level to the universal expanse.  God is there from Extra Large to Extra Small.

I took a different perspective on near death experiences a while back, writing about the events that can happen at death; Seeing Death.  You might be interested, not in what people report after having been clinically dead, but in what those who witness death sometimes see.

Today I want to share a video of someone whose life was changed by dying; Ronald Regan. Not the former president, but the advisor.  He lived a very violent, sad life as a child and young adult.  One night he screwed with someone he shouldn’t have and bled out.  The ER didn’t think he had a chance.  But he did.  He just had to go to hell first.  Go ahead; at 16:38, it’s a short view.

To go from down and out with drug and alcohol problems to one of the top political fiigures in the country is astounding…unless a high power is involved.

Seeing Death

“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:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2630927/At-gates-heaven-A-new-book-drawing-stories-dying-patients-doctors-transform-way-think-final-days.html

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!