Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017
Ps. 118:1-2, 14-24; Acts 10:34-43;
Jn. 20:1-18; Matt. 9:18-19, 23-25
It has been almost two years since my last heart surgery. I have described my experiences to some family members and very close friends, but I want you to know that there is Life after Life with God via Jesus Christ.
I underwent the second open-heart surgery on January 28th 2015. I had, like the first surgery, given my life over to God and placed my future in His hands. I considered the day after the second surgery as a really good day. My heart function was better and the recovery felt easier than the previous surgery; I thought things were going well.
It was Super Bowl Sunday for the NFL but for me it was a life struggle and God’s promise revealed. Throughout the game I became very uncomfortable, unable to sleep, severe sweating, back pain and shallow breathing. By 3:40 a.m. I had come to realize my terrible position. I struggled for the nurse call transmitter and uttered, “Somebody, please help me; I’m dying in here.” I collapsed back into the bed.
Medical files and interviews with the medical staff record the following events. The nurse responding to my final plea found me unresponsive. She called a “cold blue.” A quirk in scheduling had two crash teams on duty that night; both came to my aid. The teams went through all the lifesaving procedures without success. They had completed the process three times all without reviving me. Many minutes had gone by; they had nothing else to do . . . I was gone.
But then, I was back. I remember instantaneously becoming totally aware in the hospital bed. My vision was clear and focused without any blurriness as when first wakening. I heard all the sounds; my senses were completely returned along with the pain. The big digital clock on the wall read 4:25 am. The various colors of the hospital staff scrubs were all around me as people began grabbing my arms to insert additional fluids and needles as the team began calling out the monitors’ readings. I was back in the world, and I blurted out indignantly, “Who are you people and what are you doing to me?” They responded that I was in the hospital and they were taking care of me and to “try to relax” and to “stay with us.” I felt sorrowful and told them, “I was going home.” There was some light chuckling and then some shuffling of papers as my home address was passed to the staff at my bedside, and I was informed I was not going home but had to stay in the hospital. I replied loud enough to be heard over the ten or so medical personnel in the room, “Not my home, God’s home.” The room became quieter as my words sank in while they continued their attempts to stabilize my condition.
Here is why I now say there is life and Life. I have clear memories of my experiences after my final call to the nurse station and collapsing. I have been under general anesthesia a handful of times and have never had any visions or memories while being under. Here, I do. I have the memory of moving through a corridor or passage-way with the soft, warm colors of butterscotch, caramel and milk chocolate. I was traveling to a destination. I had no pain, nor sounds or sensation of all the procedures to revive me. There was the realization of total acceptance; all my years of transgressions were exposed but forgiven; I had no shame. I was in transition. I felt the sensation of total love and acceptance. It felt so welcoming, comforting and warm like a big bear-hug from your largest and dearest friend. I was free of earthly concerns and was being drawn to God. I came to the end of the hall where it opened into what I perceived was a huge arena-like assembly. It could be described like the entry into a stadium from the players’ tunnel. You sense the vastness and the assembly, but you don’t get to see the crowds until you cross the threshold on to the field. I felt “everyone” was there waiting. I was at the entrance of this gathering full of love and acceptance. I can’t define “everyone”; it was a gathering of multitudes. I did sense family, and I was going to be greeted and accepted by all. There was no hesitation to “moving forward” or any concern for the past on my part. I was at the threshold and then . . . .
I was back with instantaneous awareness and pain in the hospital bed, being subjected to the actions of the two code blue crash teams. After many minutes passed, I overheard the call to the cardiologist requesting emergency surgery and describing my condition as a “three-time tombstone maker.” I was far from safe. I was rushed back to intensive care, where I suffered another heart failure and was shocked with the defibrillator again. After two other surgeries, months of recovery and several new implanted cardio devices I am here today.
I knew during the transition that I was so close to God’s promise. I was right there at the threshold to heaven and overwhelming love and acceptance. It would be terrible to think I got right there and was turned back as if I was heading in the wrong direction! I reject that viewpoint with a smile, as I believe in my salvation through Jesus Christ. The feeling of love, the realization that all my sins were washed away and that I was without shame was overwhelming and amazing! I know I was exposed to God’s promise of Life after life.
My story is for you; I hope it helps you in some way to know God Is, and there is Life after life.