NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) ~ Part One

I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows (2 Corinthians 12:2, NLT).

Recently, my wife and I were taking a trip to Michigan. As we crossed the Ohio/Michigan border, she said: 

I’m reading a book on near-death experiences (NDEs).

At first, I thought she was talking about two decent Ohioans and faithful The Ohio State University football fans having the nerve to drive into Michigan. But she continued: 

It’s a book entitled “Imagine the God of Heaven: Near Death Experiences, God’s Revelation, and the Love You’ve Always Wanted.

“HHHHMMMHHM,” I thought as she read the following quote to me from the book:

Since the age of modern medical resuscitation and access to digital communication, more and more reports have surfaced across the globe about people being brought back from clinical death. A Gallup poll found that eight million Americans have had a near-death experience.

There are reports of NDEs throughout history, but with modern medicine, they have proliferated.  

During our trip, my wife read portions of the book to me. One note that struck me was the difficulty of those who had experienced a Near-Death Experience finding words to describe what happened to them.

The only passage in the Bible that could be considered an NDE was recorded by the Apostle Paul. His description: 

I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell (2 Corinthians 12:4, NLT).

I’m writing two Interruptions on Near-Death Experiences—#1192 today with #1193 tomorrow. I will discuss what we learn from NDEs tomorrow.

But in this Interruption, I’m focusing on the difficulty of those who experience NDEs to explain what they saw in heaven. We see this problem not only with Paul’s description of his third heaven experience but also in the Book of Revelation and with Ezekiel’s writing about his inaugural vision in chapter one of the Book of Ezekiel.

We should expect our words to fail us when describing God and events in heaven. I was considering this finite nature of our speech when, as my wife continued reading from the book:

Imagine your life is being lived in a two-dimensional, black-and-white painting hanging on the wall. Now imagine you “die,” and your flat, two-dimensional form peels off the painting and floats out into a room of three dimensions and many colors. This “world” you could never see, limited as you were to two dimensions, was all around you the whole time. Now imagine being brought back to two-dimensional “life” pressed into the flat painting. How would you describe your three-dimensional experience and colors using only two-dimensional terms and black-and-white language?

Why does God provide glimpses of eternal glory in NDEs and through the prophetic literature of Scripture?

The undergirding hope in the almost inexplicable is the possibility of answers to our questions now. Yes, we can’t explain some things today but getting a sneak peak of eternity allows us to hope for future understanding.

The mysteries of our faith don’t completely inform today, but they augur well for future peace.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT).

Experiences that amaze, described both in the Bible and through NDEs, contain possibilities that can counter the overwhelming despair of today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *