Remarkable things have been happening with our family! I wrote some of it down recently and hope it might bless and encourage you all:
My mother, Phyllis Richards, died a couple of weeks ago on Friday (9/19/14). After several minutes, she was brought back to life, then remained in a coma for 22 hours, completely unresponsive to all stimuli. But there's more to the story ... much more.
At age 87, my mom was more than ready to meet the Lord, and she, along with the rest of us, had been praying that God in His mercy might take her sooner than later. This once vigorous woman, who had taught EMTs across the state of Kansas and had been riding her own Gold Wing motorcycle until her 70s, had been reduced by the ravages of aging.
Eyesight boosted by glasses was so dimmed that even with the help of a magnifier she could barely read her Bible and daily devotionals. She struggled to hear even with the help of expensive hearing aids. And since providing total home care for her dying husband a decade ago, the pain of severe sciatica made it sometimes impossible and often dangerous for her to walk without assistance.
A few months ago, she had been scheduled for an implantation of a nerve stimulator in her lower back, but sensed the Lord directing her not to have the surgery. It was cancelled just 24 hours in advance.
She Died! And Jesus Visits My Mom in the ICU
Then it happened! An uncomfortable night, followed by a half hour of increasing distress in which she "hurt all over," she died as I caressed her on her bed.
EMTs had arrived just as she was leaving, and by the time she breathed her last breath, they were rushing into the room ... one to administer CPR with heavy chest compressions, another to seek a vein for medicine injection, still others to provide oxygen and set up monitors. After a few minutes, my mom was breathing some on her own, some with the help of machines.
For the next 21 hours in ICU, she showed no sign of brain life. But when she revived, more of the story unfolded. She had a visit from Jesus while in ICU. As she lay on her side, Jesus was lying behind her, with His hand providing the constant massaging of her calves that compression cuffs would normally provide in the hospital. As He massaged, He also held her hand. Although no words were exchanged she says that she "felt wonderfully cared for."
The Spiritual Side of the Story: A Dream, a Vision and an Angel
Then we heard from friends in Hawaii. Loretta often receives prophetic pictures from the Lord, and as we read what she had seen, chills went down our spines. On the previous Wednesday, two days before my mom died, Loretta had a dream of a field filled with open graves. People were falling into each of them, except at one grave someone was being pulled out. It was my son-in-law Josh pulling someone from the grave.
Two days later on that Friday morning, Josh led the fire department crew that revived my mom, with Josh providing the CPR that re-established her heartbeat. Sometimes we use Christianese to glibly express commonly held truths—Christianese such as, "God wasn't caught by surprise by what happened." The picture He gave Loretta two days before my mom's death proves the truth of that saying, but I will never again say it casually.
We live in a four-generation household. After my first wife (37 years with MS) died in 2003, I sold our home, and we built an addition connected to my daughter and son-in-law's home (Kendahl and Josh) for me to live in. Later, after my mom was widowed, she moved in with me as well.
On that fateful Friday morning, my current wife Marcia, reached me at work to urgently call me home because of my mom's distress. The trip took less than 15 minutes, but during that time my daughter Kendahl, who has long been able to see in the spirit realm, came into my mom's room and saw a huge angelic being standing on the far side of her bed.
Filling the full height of the room he appeared dark-skinned, was clothed in what looked like brown animal skins, and had bare legs up to his knees, giving an appearance like that of a Samoan warrior. He was simply standing at my mom's bedside, huge arms at his sides, looking down upon her.
Kendahl's reaction was to immediately call Josh at the fire station to tell him that my mom was dying and he needed to hurry home with the team. As Mom entered the final moments of discomfort on her bed and the paramedic team rushed in, the angelic being leaned toward her, beginning to slip his arms beneath her as though intending to lift her to himself. Seeing that, Kendahl tugged at Josh and urged that they hurry because "he has come to take her away." At that moment the team pulled my mom to the floor and began their work.
With that, the angelic being straightened himself to his original position and simply waited. As Mom began breathing, Kendahl realized that the angel had departed.
A Precious Gift and the Miracles Continue...
Mom is now in a rehab bed, doing quite well. She is on a small amount of oxygen, taking physical therapy and glowing with the peace of the Lord. On the Saturday just a week after her revival, she said she has not had a single moment of sciatica since being brought back. She has been able to read, even the red print in her Bible, without the benefit of the magnifier, but also without her normal glasses. I haven't seen her without glasses for years, and she is no longer wearing her hearing aids, yet she hears wonderfully well, although not perfectly.
It seems that God is giving all of us a precious gift—a gift not just of more time with my mom, but far more importantly, a glimpse of what Heaven will be like for those who love Him. Even as my mom's physical body has been given a taste of what awaits, we are reminded of what He is able to do and what He wants to do for each of us who love Him.
Mom isn't a theologian, but the last few years in particular have been a time of her intentionally pressing in to hear His voice and to declare her love for Him. In her weakness He has indeed shown Himself strong.
The message this story speaks to me is might we all "die to ourselves" to be filled with His newness of life. That life, the life that flows from His perfect love, has cast out all fear.
Dave Keesling serves as executive vice president of PhilanthroCorp, America's premier planned giving outsource company, working with about 100 megachurches and parachurch ministries to help their donors think through estate planning from a Biblical worldview. A business professional with a heart for ministry, Dave has spent his professional career as consultant to a wide range of Christian organizations. He has three children with his late wife Cindy, and four grandchildren. He and his wife Marcia live in Woodland Park, Colo.