A couple of weeks ago (well, probably more like close to a month and a half ago), Rick and Bubba featured author Don Piper on their program. Piper is the author of the book 90 Minutes in Heaven
, which I'd seen at various book stores and Wal-Mart but the book hadn't really jumped out or caught my interest. Honestly, I'd kind of dismissed it as one of those books that would take about dying, floating above the body, the white light, all those random cliches we've heard about near-death experiences.
But then I heard Piper talk on Rick and Bubba and my interest was piqued. I got the book from the library and quickly read it.
It's been about three weeks since I read it, but yet I find myself still going back to it, thinking about it and reflecting on it.
For those of you who don't know, the book talks about Piper's experience from several years ago. Piper was driving back from a religious conference when his car was hit by a semi while crossing a bridge. Piper was pretty mangled in the wreck and pronounced dead at the scene. He was gone from this world for 90 minutes, during which time he went to heaven. In the book, he tries to put into words what he experienced there, but you can tell it's difficult for him. Not because he doesn't believe it, but because to describe the overwhelming experience and glory of being in heaven with our limited vocabulary in this level of existence is a bit difficult to do. During his time in heaven, a friend of Piper's went to the scene and felt the call to pray for him. The friend did, even singing a hymn over Piper's dead body. Suddenly, Piper says he was no longer in heaven, but back here on Earth.
Now, here's the intersting part of the story. The book is about 15 or so chapters long and covers about 200 pages. Only two chapters and maybe a total of 30 pages tops is spent relating Piper's heaven experience. The rest of the book is spent talking about Piper's return to his Earth, his recovery from his severe injuries and it examines the question--why would I get to heaven and be ready to leave this world, only to be sent back to Earth to a broken body and a spirit that was discouraged and hurting?
Piper spends a good bit of time describing what happened to him and the processes the surgeons and doctors had to use in order to attempt to restore a new sense of normal to his life. There are times reading about what Piper experience, including the almost overwhelming pain that no amount of drugs could numb, that had me cringing.
But yet, as the story goes along, Piper slowly begins to realize he came back to Earth for a good reason. And he begins to embrace it and accept it.
He never gets any "good" answer to the why bad things happens to good people question, but he does explore how out of this negative, there have come many positives in his life. And that he was sent back to Earth to help create God's kingdom in his own way.
It makes me think about times in my life when things have looked bleak and I've wondered--God, why are you letting me go through this? Sometimes in my mind, I see God as Superman, able to swoop down from the sky and take care of all my problems for me. But from that I learn nothing and don't have experiences or struggles that help me. I know it's hard to think about it, but in life there are peaks and valleys....but most of life is lived between those. And it's how we live in those between times that I think defines who we are. Certainly, I've never had a valley quite as deep as Mr. Piper's but I've had a few. And I've had peaks as well, and reading the book we get to see some of Piper's.
And all of that encourages me. And reading about Piper's experience of his few moments in heaven, it makes me want to get there all the more. I know that when God calls me home, that's where I'm going...and hearing what Piper relates about the experience, it sounds amazing. Even more amazing that I could ever imagine or describe here on Earth (though in my heaven, Tennessee beats Florida every time we play and Spurrier throws the visor a lot...I imagine this is probably not exactly how it is and once I get there, I won't care a lick about football, but it's still nice to imagine sometimes).
And the book has stuck with me...I've thought a good bit about it since I read it and have reflected on it a lot in my quiet time. I don't believe it takes the place of Scripture in having truth in my life.
That said, if you're looking for an interesting book, I highly recommend this one. Give it a try...you never know what you might take from it.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/29/2007 08:19:00 AM