This story was originally published here on Facebook by Terry Mingus.
(Re-published with the author’s permission.)
February 23, 2013 at 3:41pm
What follows is the best description I can give of a very significant spiritual event in my life. I have used the best words I can find to describe it given that I have no previous reference point or life experience to draw from similar to this.
Two months ago I was in the hospital. I have emphysema and a genetic defect that cause blebs or blistery thin spots on the lining of my lungs. That being the case, being in the hospital has become a rather common thing for me. This particular trip was very different from most. I have pondered and fretted over how I would share this event because if I had not lived it I would find it hard to believe.
Like many times before I went into the hospital with acute bronchitis on the verge of full-blown pneumonia. I’d been fighting to breathe and not worry anyone for 3 days and apparently my body had reached a point of complete exhaustion. I had no fight left in me. Watching my beautiful wife worry over me and fret over whether I was getting proper care and that my illness was being taken seriously pained me, as it always does. Eventually, the severity of my inability to breathe on my own became apparent and I was admitted. I was put on a machine called a bi-pap machine, a less invasive form of a respirator, to assist my tired lungs and chest muscles to breathe.
Even with the assistance of the machine breathing was difficult and by 4 am the following morning I went into pulmonary distress. My thoracic muscles just couldn’t handle the workload to breathe anymore I was not getting oxygen and my body began to shut down.
I remember waking up struggling to get a breath of air. The machine seemed to be working against me and in a panic, I grabbed the respirator mask and tore it off my face. I grabbed the call button and hit the emergency button. Though I am sure it was only a moment, it seemed like forever before I got a response and the nursing staff came in trying to calm me down and adjust the machine to help me breathe. But I was beyond having time to calm down I needed air now !!!!!
I heard staff saying this isn’t good he’s in distress, call the head of ICU. I was too busy trying to get air, so panicked that once again I tore off the mask and with the last bit of strength I had, ran for the hospital room door where I ran into a nurse who grabbed me telling me I need to get back in the bed. My response was to use my last millimeter of air in my lungs to gasp as loud as I could “I CAN’T BREATHE!!!!”
Then something beyond any explanation I can fathom occurred.
I was suddenly seeing everything from three points of view. Not just seeing, but feeling and living three experiences at once.
I’ve never had an experience like this nor have I ever thought of seeing or describing things from three points of view at once, so bear with me if things get a little disjointed …. They were.
I was standing in the door speaking to the nurse, explaining that I could not breathe, but I was also seeing this from a slightly elevated place at the same time. As if this wasn’t strange enough, as the nurse and an aide grabbed me and led me back to the bed and sat me down… I was also still standing in the doorway of the room – and in this elevated point of view all at the same time.
Sitting on the bed I could hear the concerned staff discussing who needed to be called: my wife, my doctor, the head of ICU, and to bring in the crash cart because I was crashing as they spoke. My lungs were exhausted and just stopped trying to pull in air. I was losing control of my body and saying “Ok Father, I am in your hands now,” even though I knew I was dying and was terrified. Standing in the doorway I could see and hear all of this going on including those inner thoughts sent to God. I was frozen in the doorway unable to move.
The doorway was brightly lit with a golden red light that flowed right through me. My left arm and leg were on the outside of the doorway, which now no longer led to the hospital hallway but to a vast, open space from which the light came. My right arm and leg were on the inside of the door, and energy was flowing from outside the room through my left side into the room out of my right side flowing into the me who was sitting on the bed fighting for air. From the third elevated point of view I was witnessing all of those things occurring at the same time with three separate thought processes, seeing this from three different points of view – yet sharing all three at the same time – even the inner thoughts.
At this point, I was pretty terrified. As a matter of fact, all three of me are terrified.
What was going on?
Why was I experiencing this in three separate ways simultaneously?
Am I dying?
My wife Liz will be so hurt and sad, we’ve only been married a few months. Life was just getting good.
Suddenly angry with myself – all the self-judgment commenced.
Damn my rebellious heart!! I smoked and neglected my health all these years. I’ve wasted so many opportunities. So many things I could’ve done should’ve done. I deserve this, I guess. But… I had been working on changes for the good. I was back living my faith again, married this wonderful woman. We had gone through a lot together. We were finally involved with some Christian people we admired and were developing a good reputation among the local Christian music community. Why NOW?????
Then I heard that sweet still small voice that has been my constant companion all my life. I knew this voice intimately it was with me even before I was born again and living for God.
He asked me:
“Is this it for you?
Is this really all you wanted out of the life you were given?
Are you really satisfied with the way things are?
Are you really ready to quit?”
I heard this from all three places – the doorway, the bed, and the elevated viewpoint. Suddenly it set in what was going on. I was suspended between life and death and meeting with my father. There was no anger in his voice, as a matter of fact, it was the same loving voice that had always helped me and encouraged me when disaster entered my life. The same voice that had talked me through weighing and measuring right and wrong, good and evil, this direction in life or that. I wish all the thoughts, all the things exchanged in that meeting could be put into words but it really isn’t possible. Images of life events, people who I had hurt or helped. Things I had done and things I had always meant to do but never seemed to find the time. Hours seemed to pass in a few seconds or maybe it was seconds passed that seemed like hours.
All the while on the bed I was hearing all of this seeing myself in the doorway arms outstretched like he/I was hanging in midair or looking much like the images of people hanging on crosses, red light flowing through him … who was me…
I was aware of the third me sitting slightly above us experiencing all of this too, but could not see him … me.
All of us separate yet one.
I was watching nurses putting the mask on my face again forcing air into me , the crash cart rolled in, the head of ICU walked in the door with the head of all the nursing in the hospital, all trying to figure out what my body was going to do. I was sitting up in total rigidity my arms suddenly jerked back in a most unnatural posture like a pole had been slid between my bent arm and my back. There was something else there… something trying to accelerate the dying process. It was phantom-like and silent and it was hurting me.
Suddenly every fiber of my body was wracked with excruciating pain. I was no longer breathing. From the doorway I watched them lay my body back on the bed pull the hospital gown away and start to jell two spots on my chest and torso and start the defibrillator charging.
The voice…my Father’s voice said, “The choice is yours, it always has been, it always will be your choice. What do you want Terry?”
I replied from the third spot elevated above the room, “I want to live, I am needed, and there are things you put in my heart left undone. But Father if that is not your will, I am ok with not staying, if you want me to go I will go, if you want me to stay I will stay… I surrender”.
“So be it.” He softly answered.
Suddenly the golden red light swelled, the me that was standing in the door felt my skin flutter like being in a high velocity vehicle when the g-force reaches a certain level. The light shot from my right hand into the me on the bed and suddenly I was on the bed breathing and the nurse was saying “Wait he’s ok now, he’s breathing, heartbeat is steady, that was scary.”
There are other details there but some things words fail to describe intelligibly. Two months later and I am still trying to fathom what happened. Why was I seeing it from three points of view? Interestingly, many of the physical things that occurred after I lost consciousness according to the nurse Liz spoke with, were exactly as I saw them from the doorway and the elevated point of view.
I have no explanation for what happened. I have no scriptural reference to validate my experience to the legalists of our faith. I have nothing scientific to offer up to those of the scientific ilk. Some will call me heretic, some will call me lunatic, I am ok with that, because I believe there are some who know exactly what I am talking about, either through experience or revelation. I know there are some who believe me a fallen man, unworthy to minister, unworthy to sing for my king. I’m sorry…my Father disagrees with you. I know what I experienced in three ways simultaneously. I am not a theologian, I am not a scientist, but I know what I lived through and no MD’s, PHD’s nor divinity degrees, no scripture interpretation, no bylaws, no rules in the world can ever take that from me.
I know that if I ever had a doubt about my standing with my maker or that there is more to existence than just the body and physical realm – all doubts are gone. I have experience the physical, the spiritual and I am not sure what the third experience would be called – but it is real nonetheless. I will probably revisit this experience in future writings as I ponder and meditate on its meaning and hopefully receive some insight from Father. God is real, we are physical, we are spirit and there is something else in our nature yet to be understood.