It’s doubtful that anyone has shared a funny account about nearing-death and dying experiences as a teaching tool. However, Sunday morning, the international on-air and online episode of Dr H. Edwin Young, noted author and senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, did just that in his Winning Walk television broadcast.
Near-death experiences are rarely humorous accounts. We, who experience near-death or shared nearing-death experiences know these experiences to be an event that will change our lives and leave us with knowledge of another realm and many times, enhanced “gifts.” What Dr. Young describes is not far from actual reported near-death experiences and visitations of both Heaven and Hell.
Of course, Dr. Young’s “what if” story is more of a didactic (instructive or intended to teach or demonstrate, especially with regard to morality) parable. However, it is rare that near-death experiences are used to teach in most churches.
The fact that Dr.Young used a theoretical nearing-death and afterlife story left us laughing, nonetheless, it illustrates a strong underlying truth in what most of near-death experiencers, upon returning, know to be a revelation in our lives. That knowledge is of another realm, a higher power, a dedicated focus on the love of humanity and the unimportance of material possessions. Dr. Young’s amusing story was by far one to be shared for the meaningful focus in our lives and dying.
Discussing the Biblical account of Satan tempting Christ and going forth with our nation’s priorities in material things and its focus on things apart from our faith, Dr. Young gave an account of a “what if” nearing-death and death experience of a very rich and powerful man.
The story begins with the man, who was very corrupt and partied like a college kid. The married powerhouse had met his buddies at a local bar, womanizing and joking with his buddies about various illicit affairs, viscous power moves and other unmentionable things he enjoyed. He finally left the bar a little tipsy. In crossing the street, the man was struck by a car.
He found himself taken up and standing in front of the “pearly gates of Heaven.” The man was quite taken aback by an angel’s instructions. He was told that he could make a decision between Heaven and Hell by visiting for 24 hours in each place. Naturally, he wanted to see if Hell was there. Suddenly, he was in Hell.
The scene was not at all as expected. Instead of fire, brimstone and souls in eternal agony, he found a beautiful landscape with all of his friends waiting there for him. As Dr. Young says, “The indescribable beauty and friendship included such spectacular food and celebrities and the man felt proud to be among such elite and famous people. Even Frank Sinatra was singing the whole time ‘I Did It My Way’ while the senator enjoyed more caviar than he had ever eaten.” (This is not to say that Frank Sinatra is in Hell.) “Ah, this is not like others had described Hell!” he thought. “This is amazing and perfect.”
When the 24 hours in Hell was up, the angel took him to Heaven. Although, there were beautiful colors, floating iridescent clouds, joy, angels singing, complete love, peace and other wondrous things in Heaven, the man found himself longing for the excitement and partying in what he felt that others “wrongfully” called Hell.
After the man’s time in Heaven, the angel asked him to choose between Heaven and Hell. Laughing, he said, “Oh, Hell was wonderful, exactly my style and I choose that.” He was quickly standing back at the entrance to Hell…but it wasn’t the same! No party, no celebrities, his buddies were covered in boils and were in the most extreme agony, flames beginning to burn him. Angrily, he turned to Satan crying and in agony, “Wait! This is not what Hell was yesterday!” The man screamed, “What happened? I was tricked! Why did it change?”
Satan said, “Oh, my, no one told you? Yesterday, we were campaigning! The man cried out to return to Heaven…”Too late, said Satan. You already voted.”
This fictional nearing-death and dying story is simply an example of what should be important in life – as many of us who have had near-death experiences and/or shared nearing-death experiences know all too well. Dr. Young’s account may just be an analogy of is exactly what our real near-death experiences teach us…the things that are now priorities in our lives. This is to love unconditionally, appreciate the beauty of life and the blessings we have.
It is up to us to spread our own very real experiences with others and bring a testimony to all. We can make a difference in the world by doing so.