What seemed all but impossible a few short years ago has now become commonplace: medical doctors writing about the supernatural.
A Harvard brain surgeon, Eben Alexander, writes about his near-death experience. So does a major cardiologist from Florida. Recently, there is Dr. Robert D. Leslie of South Carolina writing of miracles he has recorded in the emergency room, Dr. Barbara R. Rommer of Florida discussing near-death experiences (including hell), and Dr. Mary C. Neal, a graduate of UCLA’s School of Medicine, whose first book, To Heaven and Back, made the New York Times bestseller list.
Let’s take the case of Dr. Neal, an orthopedic surgeon now residing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
In a new book, 7 Lessons From Heaven, How Dying Taught Me to Live a Joy-Filled Life, she discusses a particularly fascinating aspect of a brush with death, the review of one’s life.
It isn’t always what we expect.
Dr. Neal, who “left” her body and felt encompassed by Jesus when a kayak she was paddling got trapped under a waterfall, during a junket in South America, writes:
“I was gently leaning into Jesus, embraced and comforted by His Presence.
“Scenes from my life became visible in front of us, as though projected onto a three-dimensional multisensory screen.
“Rather than anxiety or apprehension, I felt nothing but love.
“When I looked into Jesus’s Face, I saw only kindness in endless supply.
“In His arms, I felt like a newborn baby into whom He poured all of His hope, concern, love, and His very being. His embrace was gently, complete, and familiar. As my life unspooled before me, I felt deeply loved, and I knew somehow that His love was not just for me, but for all people.”
And so it is that Dr. Neal went through scenes from her life — like swiping through the chain at the bottom of “all photos” on an iPhone (as she puts it). Others see a “movie” or “slide show” or “holograms.”
Every once in a while, the Lord would halt the forward motion of the images and pluck a scene from the strand of her life, she recalls.
And with that, Dr. Neal not just watched her life in review but re-experienced it with absolute understanding, and from “every vantage point” — including that of others in her life who were present at the moment.
“As I looked at each aspect of a scene or event, I was able to instantaneously see the life story of the people involved,” she writes. “I perfectly understood their emotional backgrounds, motivations, and feelings. I understood their side of the story, what they brought to the situation, and how we were each changed by it.”
Suddenly, Dr. Neal comprehended why everyone was the way they were.
“Again and again,” she says, “seeing a person’s backstory — their experiences, circumstances, sorrows — changed my understanding of them and my emotional response became one of grace” — instead of irritation, antagonism, or anger.
Everything in her life and everyone who had been in it suddenly wove together perfectly and made perfect sense.
She also realized that a key to life is “surrender to absolute trust” in the Lord — something made easy for her because she saw the supernatural Presence of God and angels all around us all the time, even if they are seldom evident.
We make them evident through that “surrender to absolute trust” in Jesus.
We must pray from the heart.
“Regardless of whether this review is perceived as a panorama, a movie, or in small segments, it is always infused with understanding and compassion,” she says.
It is an angel-filled life of miracles when, discarding the cynicism of our time, and the hyper-rationalism, we let those miracles occur.
“God loves us because of Who God is, not because of who we are,” a fellow named Philip Yancey once wrote. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God,” said another, Corrie Ten Boom.
For life is, well — like a kayak ride down a river, Dr. Neal came to learn.
There are twists. There are turns. There is calm water. There is whitewater. Out of the blue, there can be a falls. There are waves, rocks, obstacles. We flourish with challenges when we handle them well.
“For every mile of the river, our choices will directly influence our enjoyment of the journey,” the surgeon writes. “How we navigate a difficult part of this river can lead to satisfaction and fun, or misery and injury. We get to choose. Fortunately, even when we make poor choices, the current never ceases pulling us onward, carrying us toward our destination.”
[resources: 7 Lessons From Heaven]