I read a book by Don Piper – 90 Minutes in Heaven. Don is a pastor and he was declared dead and gone for 90 minutes in a horrific automobile accident. Don spent those 90 minutes in heaven, while his physical body lay dead and covered with a tarp in his wrecked automobile. It is an incredible story of what he witnessed and saw, it makes me long to see heaven (but I will wait).
When Don came back to earth after the 90 minutes, he came back to a life of constant pain and a very broken body. His first 2 years were filled with more pain than he thought human beings could stand. He has endured more than 34 surgical procedures; he still lives in chronic pain. Don is so honest in his story, he talks about his fight with depression, the “why’s” of the pain and the why he was sent back to earth. He came to the conclusion that he was supposed to share his story and bring hope to other people by recounting his experience in heaven. His purpose is to share his heaven encounter and instil hope of something better to come, reveal that heaven is for “real” and offer encouragement to other hurting people.
I love that Don has spent the remainder of his life, trying to help other people make sense of non-sensible things and to offer them hope. Things that cause heartache, physical pain, mental pain, the unexplainable events of life that tumble in, around and on us. Don does it well and has helped so many other people find hope and encouragement to continue their life journey when they wanted to give up.
If you want the low down on “heaven” you will have to get a copy of his book, no one can tell it like Don, but I can tell you it excited me to the point of reading the book twice and then listening to the book on CD. The book instils hope and the incredible strength of humans to withstand things they never thought they could.
I will share one of my lightbulb moments of this book :
The fellow who prayed for Don to come back to life, in the wrecked car and Don were in a coffee shop, sometime after Don’s recovery. The other fellow started to cry. He himself had gotten a light bulb moment. He explained to Don that he realized for most of us, if we saw someone standing in front of a speeding car or a child run out in front of one, we would not even hesitate to rush to them and push them out of the way, possibly harming ourselves in the process. Most of us would not even think, it would be in our nature to do so, we would “react”. But he noted that in this world, every day, we are surrounded by hurting people, people in crisis and pain, people jumping off the cliff of suicide and we sit by and say nothing about the God who can help them. He realized that most of us are not doing our part to bear one another’s burdens, to share the hope we have with others.
This was my light bulb- am I sharing the hope I have with other people? Am I telling them there is a heaven waiting? Am I leaving them with a hope that there is a better way to get through their pain? That there is a God who cares and other people who will love them? I get so caught up in my own selfishness that I think I miss many opportunities to offer a listening ear, a comforting word or even just a hug of encouragement. I want to do better, Don makes me want to do better. God makes me want to do better and one other thing makes me want to do better….
Let me share one other light bulb moment with you, one that I think at this time of year will fill you with a sense of wonder to want to find out – “really?”
Don says that the most “impactful” thing for him about heaven was the sounds. The one sound that he can close his eyes and still hear, the one sound that for him describes heaven, the one sound he aches to hear again – is the “swoosh” of angels wings. He said the sound is like nothing you have ever heard, but so intensely wonderful it takes over your being, and it is only one of the sounds of heaven.
Don recalls, “that heaven was like a first-class buffet for the senses. It felt more real than anything he had ever experienced before.”
And that my friends is one other thing that makes me want to do better: I Want To Hear the Swoosh of Angels Wings.
As we sing our Christmas Carols filled with Angels: We Have Heard on High, Hark the Herald Angel Sing, and Angels From the Realms of Glory. I Want To Hear Them Swoosh.
Angels are real and so is heaven and from that heaven came a baby, not just any baby but a baby named Jesus, the Savior of the world, that the Angels sang about and swooshed over.
This Christmas season, let us rejoice and sing along with the angels and if you dare, close your eyes and listen so very carefully, perhaps, just maybe, you will hear a strange noise that could be considered a “swoosh.”
Merry Christmas my friends.