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S160418ometimes strange or seeming supernatural things take place in our life which we never, or very seldom (outside of family or close personal friends), talk about. Not because we are ashamed of them (although that's usually the case because they were mischievous deeds or misdeeds). But, rarely, it's because most people won't believe what you claimed happened was anything more than a figment of your imagination because they never experienced what happened to you, nor knew anyone else who had—or for that matter, knew anyone who knew anyone who had.

I was born in a very low income neighborhood in the small, slowly dying summer tourist town of Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan across the St. Mary's River from its twin (but more prosperous) Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, on the Canadian border in November, 1940. If you're a lot older than me, you know there was a solar warming phase that began with 119 solar sunspots in 1937, down to a low of 7 sunspots in 1940—an abrupt temperature departure that brought much colder weather to the United States from 1940 to 1944. Al Gore, Jr., the profiteer of global warming wasn't born until 1948, during the start of the warming phase in solar cycle 18. I entered the picture (i.e, the world)—in 1940. Halfway through November, 1940. While I only have my mother's womb to compare to the warmth found at 1011 Young Street where we lived until 1943, I know it was cold because our house was warmed by a large pot belly stove in what should have been the dining room, and my crib was brought down from upstairs and parked near the stove. While I didn't know it, being not more than three to six months old at the time, I had a very severe case of bronchial pneumonia. My right lung was full of fluid, and I was in danger of dying.

I was in my crib next to the pot belly stove which served as the heating system for the entire house. The room was dark except for the light from the kitchen. My mother picked me up from the crib (apparently I was crying). My father was framed in the doorway of the kitchen. My mother said: "Frankie, there's something bad wrong with Jonny..." I would be fully grown before I ever thought through that moment in the life of a three to six month old baby before I realized two things.

First, no three to six month old baby with bronchial pneumonia, a high fever and likely screaming his head off, is going to remember—let alone comprehend—the words my frantic mother spoke to my father. Second, the memory of that event was not the memory of a baby being cradled by his mother. Rather, the image of that moment which I have carried in the "snapshot section" of my brain throughout my entire life was a view from the corner of a darkened room, looking into the light as though the memory embedded in my mind was an image viewed by a third party in the room. Only, there was no third person in the room. In that image, my mother—holding me—was standing in front of the pot belly stove, next to my crib. My father was to the left of my mother, framed in the doorway. Behind him was the wooden dinner table.

The first time I ever discussed what happened that night took place was around 1955. I was playing cribbage with my Dad when, in a sentimental moment I've seen him express only twice in my life, Dad began to recount the night they almost lost me. His memories of that night were of the fears of not knowing what was happening in the operating room as he paced back and forth in the surgery visitors' room, waiting to hear the prognosis on his youngest son. My memory of that night was slightly different. What my mindseye saw began with a bright light. What I told my father over that cribbage game that evening, and what I initially mistakenly thought I "saw" during the operation was the light over the operating table since I was lying on that table, with a long tube protruding from my right side. draining what my mind recalls was a really noxious pus from what I later learned was a pulmonary edema in that lung. The fluid was draining into a white enamel pan on the floor beside the operating table.

In 1979 or, perhaps, 1980 (after I read Life After Life and my curiosity was aroused), I telephoned War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to see if the records of that operation were still available. I was told, as best that I recall, I would need more than the physician's name and the year the operation took place. I would need the date of the operation. But, I remember they added, the hospital did not keep active files of 30 to 40 year old medical records which meant, I think, that although the files might still be stored somewhere on microfiche, they were pretty much not available..

I ignored what I saw in my mindseye when I first recalled that moment about ten years later because what I saw, like the imagery of my mother and father before I was taken to the hospital, also appeared as though I was viewing my operation through someone else's eyes. Instead, of relaying everything I actually saw from the perspective of the view, I suggested instead that I must have awakened during the operation, relaying the scene in the operating room which my father knew, even if I had awaken and witnessed what I saw, a tiny tyke with an IQ equal to my age, would not have understood what I saw, let alone retain it for 15 years.

The "bright light" I saw, much like my spirit, was well above the operating room lights—where the ceiling should have been, but wasn't. What was there was a light so bright everything below us except for the operating table where I still lay, more dead than alive, faded into an opaqueness caused by the light.

I reached that twilight zone between life and death. I had come as close to the hereafter as a human being can and still return alive. In 1976 I bought a book written by Dr. Raymond Moody, MD a year earler, entitled "Life After Life." Moody interviewed over 100 people who died for a few minutes and returned to life, a phenomenon commonly called NDE.or the "near death experience." Life_After_life.jpgThe medical community has determined that when you actually die, you cannot be resuscitated. Those, whose heart stopped beating for short periods, but regained heart function, suffered NDE but did not die.

What Dr. Moody found interesting was what those with NDE experienced when they were unofficially dead. Some saw the same bright light I experienced—the portal to Heaven. Others had the perpetual sense of continually tumbling in absolute pitch-black darkness. But all those who saw the bright light had one other thing in common. Everyone reported seeing themselves in the third person. They watched their own final moments as a spectator.

One elderly man, who relayed his experience with NDE to Moody, said that he re-experienced the event over and over as the doctors brought him back from the brink several times "...I was moving through a vacuum, just through darkness. Yet, I was quite conscious. It was like being in a cylinder which had no air in it. It was a a feeling of limbo, of being halfway here and halfway somewhere else. Another man recounted an experience which happened to him "as a youngster." (Based on his experience, I would guess his NDE encounter happened after he had reached the age of accountability because his NDE encounter was a total darkness experience instead of seeing the bright light.) He told Moody that "...I had the feeling that I was moving through a deep, very dark valley. The darkness was so deep and impenetrable that I could see absolutely nothing, but this was the most wonderful, worry-free experience you could imagine. Now I know," he added, "what the Bible means by the valley of the shadow of death because I've been there." Except, when you die you will either see the bright light that leads to Heaven or the black abyss that leads to Hell. The valley of the shadow of death is either an eternity of absolute darkness without any sound or light, or it is the portal to a fiery pit where the wayfarer journeys until absolute death claims him where the screams of anguish and torment from the other travelers greet them when they reach the bowels of the bottomless pit.

One NDE traveler described Hell this way: "The darkness of Hell is so intense that there is a pressure per square inch that is crushing. It is an extremely black, desolate, heavy, type of darkness that triggers a depressing feeling of loneliness. The heat is dry, dehydrating. Your eyeballs are so dry they feel like red hot coals in their sockets. Your tongue and lips are parched and cracked with intense heat. With millions of people around you, the loneliness of Hell cannot be expressed in words because there are no words which can describe it."

I suspect that those who had that sense of endlessly falling into the black abyss for a long period of time are those destined for Hell but who, while clinically dead, are not truly dead because the distance from life to Hell, I suspect, will be a very short journey. Some DNE victims experienced Hell without the long journey in darkness. The darkness exists because, without God there is no light. A physician, Dr. Maurice Rawlings, reported that one of his patients recounted his DNE experience this way: "...I was floating in pitch black darkness—moving fast. The wind whistled by and I rushed toward this beautiful blazing light. But, as I moved past the light, the walls of the black tunnel caught fire. Beyond the blazing tunnel a huge lake of fire was burning like an oil spill. Elongated shadows showed that people were moving aimlessly about like animals in a zoo enclosure. Down the hill I saw an old friend who had died—the last I recall they were dragging the river for him. 'Hi there, Jim!' I called out. He just looked at me, didn't even smile. They were taking him around the corner when he started screaming. I ran, but there was no way out. I kept saying 'Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord.' Suddenly I was back in my body, as you were putting in the stitches."

Let me say this with respect to what that NDE traveler's comment about praying and then returning to this world. Near death experiences are just that—being clinically dead, but still clinging to life and still in possession of the body we reside in. While the heart stops beating, the human brain within that body may still be alive. That is the physical abode of the being. In other words, as long as the patient had not yet been evicted from his human "residence" within that brain he's still the occupant of that body. Had total death taken place, and that patient found himself in Hell, there would be no escape; nor would there be any post-death forgiveness for the sins he committed in life. Having your sins erased is simple. It costs nothing. Jesus paid for that forgiveness almost two thousand years ago. He took your place on the cross in the middle, and paid for your sins with His own blood. All you have to do is ask. But, the trick is, you have to ask for forgiveness, and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior before you find yourself in the dark, black abyss on your way to the fiery pits of Hell. My guess is, that's why the NDE experience exists. It's a preview of the odyssey at the end of the journey through life. It is the climax of the free choice life God allowed you to select for yourself. What you can't do is change your mind once that final journey begins for real. I often wonder about those who got the preview of Hell—How many of them, do you suppose, changed direction, opting for the bumpy, unpaved, rock-filled road that leads to salvation and eternal life, or remained on that smoothly paved superhighway that leads to Hell?



Just Say No
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