How one man’s glimpse of the hereafter eased his fears about what happens after we die.
By R.T. Brown, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Guidepost.org.
In and out of the hospital—that’s where I was that winter I was 73. My wife, Mary, and I had barely been able to enjoy our usual respite in south Florida. I couldn’t help thinking my 30 years of heart problems had finally caught up to me.
I believed in God and heaven, but still I wondered: What would happen to me when I died? The thought terrified me. I didn’t want to leave my wife and family. I didn’t ever want to be without them. Especially without knowing what awaited me. Then I had an experience I’ll never forget. It began with emergency surgery. In the ICU recovering, I drifted in and out of consciousness….
“His heart! It’s stopped beating.”
Pounding on my chest. Doctors shouting orders. Nurses darting here and there. Amid the flurry of activity I feel myself rising, rising right off the bed and up to the ceiling. I look down and see my body lying in the bed. A doctor puts paddles to my chest. A cold sensation. A noise. My body jumps from the charge, but I feel nothing.
“He’s dead. We’ve lost him.”
I’m dead. I’m really dead. All my fears realized. Where do I go now?
I float through the wall like it is not even there and find myself in a brightly lit tunnel that seems to have no end. What am I doing here? Where am I going? My thoughts stop. I’m hurtling through the tunnel—my body sucked through it as if by some powerful vacuum! Large white flakes—like snow but not cold—fill the air. I’m frightened. Wherever I’m headed is further and further away from my wife. How to get back? Or can’t I?
The tunnel opens into a vast open space. Not a second to catch my breath. I shoot straight up…through layer after layer of thick clouds…
I’m floating. Far, far below me are the clouds I’d passed through stretching across the horizon. I’m completely alone, helpless, in some mysterious distant cosmos. Dear God, please show me comfort.
Far in the distance I see movement. It’s coming toward me, effortlessly gliding through the air. A flock, of some sort. The creatures have wings, huge feathered appendages the size of their bodies. Birds? I glance nervously around.
But there is nowhere to go. The creatures are within 100 feet.
Then I see.
They are angels.
One of them breaks away from the group. I can almost touch him. I can’t make out his face and yet, there is something familiar about him. “I know you. You’re my guardian angel.”
The angel doesn’t say a word. His robes rustle and his face passes gently against my cheek. Like a kiss.
My worries vanish. I feel a peace I have never known. All is quiet. And in the stillness God is there, welcoming me, enveloping me in his love.
I look over the angel’s shoulder to the horizon beyond. “Lord, by your grace,” I say, “I’m ready to come home with you.”
A voice, soothing yet powerful responded: “It’s not your time yet. You must go back.”
A force pulls me back exactly the way I came, even faster this time. I’m plummeting straight down, almost in free fall, plunging, plunging through the clouds.
Something’s wrong! I’m going to crash! Help me!
I stop falling and smoothly turn into the tunnel, still filled with white flakes. I fly to the end, back through the hospital walls. I see my body—still in the bed—doctors and nurses crowded around.
“His heart’s beating. He’s alive!”
I’m alive. I’m back on the earth. Everything goes dark.
It was sometime later when I felt myself stirring. I opened my eyes and there was Mary. “I thought we’d lost you,” she said.
I looked into her eyes. “I went to the most wonderful place,” I said and told her my story.
It’s been three years since I was granted that glimpse into the Hereafter. In a few weeks Mary and I will pack up and head north. I can’t wait to see our children and grandkids. Someday I know my time here will end. But I’m not worried. I know where I’m going, and that God will be there to welcome me home.