I Saw the Light
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I watched a TV show last night where everyone was dealing with death. They couldn't help it; the show was set in a hospital.
I enjoyed the fiction and the drama and went to bed sure that I would dream of scrubs and good-looking doctors. However, I laid awake unable to sleep and, at one moment, sat up in sheer panic.
I couldn't stop thinking about death. I was overwhelmed with the idea of everything as I knew it being over... done... gone. I'd go to sleep and never wake up. The mere thoughts sent fear through my heart.
Now you'll have to forgive me. I know it's a downer of a topic, but I'm a writer. We're modern day philosophers. We think about this stuff so you don't have to.
But have you ever pondered death? Have you ever tried to wrap your brain around the mechanics of your own mortality? What happens? Is it just eternal darkness? What comes next? Or, God forbid, what if there is no "next"?
No matter who you are or what you believe, death is the one thing we all have in common. It's the one absolute that everyone can agree on. You and I and everybody we know will eventually pass away.
I sat in my bed -- a Christian for over 20 years -- literally scared to death... or rather scared of death. I could almost feel my heart racing when I remembered something that I thought I'd never forget.
I have to warn you. What I'm about to tell you is out of the ordinary and may make you feel uncomfortable. You may think I'm nuts. Those who are easily offended or have heart problems should go to our Health section for a nice, easy-to-read article on the benefits of soy. Everyone else, read closely because what I'm about to share saved my life... at least it did last night.
A few years ago, I was working at a radio station. At the time, a song called "Hallelujah" by Detour180 was climbing the charts. In the chorus, the group sang hallelujah over and over again. I liked the song and played it on my shift whenever I could.
One day I came home, laid on the couch and couldn't get the song out of my head. I thought, partially joking, that "Hallelujah" sounded like a song that they would sing in heaven.
What happened next still escapes me. I closed my eyes intending to take a nap, but as the song resounded in my head, I had a vision. It's weird to read, and trust me, it was even more weird when it happened.
I knew it was heaven, because everything was blindly bright. I was standing behind some one else who was in just as much wonder as I was. We were walking towards this amazing light that was warm. We looked at scores of people to our right. I couldn't figure out what they were wearing, but it was almost as if they were clothed in light. They were singing, laughing with each other, and looking so happy. Some of them saw us and waved us in. "Come on. Come up here. It's wonderful," they seemed to say.
For a moment, I let myself go. As I did that, a sensation came over me that I still have yet to adequately describe. Think of every wonderful feeling you've ever experienced flooding your body all at once. No bills, no time, no worries, no traffic, no stress... It's the complete absence of burden. Every part of my being was at peace, and I felt nothing but joy. It was so strong and so overtaking that I said, "Lord, I can't stay here another minute. My heart will literally burst."
As soon as I prayed, everything went black, and I suddenly felt as though I was roughly thrust back into the heaviness of life. I opened my eyes and looked at the ceiling. I was back on the couch. I was fairly calm, but inside my head, I was screaming, "Whoa! Did anyone else see that?"
Now, do I believe that I died in my living room and went to heaven? No. I like to think of it as this. You know before you go on vacation, you get a brochure of the place you're going. You see the kids enjoying the theme park rides or couples strolling down the beach into the sunset.
It was like that. I got to peek at the brochure for the afterlife. I saw the smiling faces; I saw the light, and I got a taste of what it would be like to never worry again.
The vision was beautiful. It comforted me then, and it did the same last night. I went back to sleep and didn't give death another thought.
You don't have to be afraid of what's coming after this life. I know there's a place where the light is so bright that it warms your soul. The hope of heaven is a wonderful thing, but there's only one way to get there...
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