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Faith & You: When looking at the end of life, is there a new beginning? -- Terry Pluto

November 9, 2018

Faith & You: When looking at the end of life, is there a new beginning? -- Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio – “You feel strange when they tell you that you’re going to die.”

That’s what Mary (not real her name) told me recently.

Mary has dealt with significant health problems for several years.

She was recently put in the hospice program.

“I really feel tired,” she said. “I don’t feel like fighting any more.”

She is a Christian. In her mind, she knows she is forgiven.

But like many of us, she has her image of God tied together with her earthly father. He was a troubled, judgmental man who often ridiculed her despite her high grades and professional achievements.

It’s very easy to confuse God with the most powerful male figures in our young lives.

We talked about that for a while.

One of my favorite verses is John 3:17: “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.”

The crowd that clung to Jesus had a lot of issues and personal problems. They felt welcomed and loved by him, while being rejected by so many others in their lives.

THE WHITE LIGHT

We talked about heaven.

“I wonder,” she said, not finishing the sentence.

“We all do,” I said.

Then I asked her if she remembered a man named Harry Watson – a close friend of mine who had died in 2009.

She had met him a few times.

Harry was my mentor and partner in jail ministry for a long time. He had been a salesman for Proctor & Gamble. He liked the stock market.

He was not a man given to flights of fantasy.

“About 18 years ago, Harry had a heart attack,” I said. “At one point, his heart stopped. The doctors thought they were ‘going to lose him.’ Harry said those were the words used by a doctor after Harry had recovered.”

Mary nodded.

I told her how Harry said he had one of those “white light” experiences. He felt as if he were floating above his body, looking down at himself in the hospital room.

Harry then said he kept moving toward the light.

“He had the most incredible feeling of peace and love,” I said.

Harry said he saw something like a city in the distance. The light seemed to be coming from there.

“I saw some people outside the city,” said Harry. “They were old friends, some people from church. All were dead.”

Harry said he wanted to go to them.

“But then I woke up,” said Harry. “I was back in the hospital bed.”

IS IT REAL?

Harry rarely told this story. He knew people would doubt him. He also couldn’t explain everything he saw.

“I just know it was a glimpse of heaven,” he said.

Mary and I talked about that for a while.

We both had read about near-death experiences that sounded at least somewhat like Harry’s.

I mentioned Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I also mentioned a line from an old Paul Newman movie called Hud: “You can’t get out of life alive.”

“More than once, Harry said he had no fear of death after what he saw,” I told Mary.

We talked a little more about heaven.

Then I told Mary: “When the subject of heaven would come up, Harry would always say, ‘I’m telling you, it’s real.’”

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