Dying to Live
Filming begins next week on 90 Minutes in Heaven. It is based on the book whose first printing of 5,000 copies later surpassed five million in sales—the living definition of “unexpected best seller.”
I have a personal connection with the book. I was one of the first to interview Don Piper about his experience for a national magazine, albeit a trade publication.
A former Southern Baptist associate pastor, Piper’s story about seeing friends and family members in heaven was transformed into a bestseller by Cec Murphey. I met him through a mutual friend; Cec has since has become a personal inspiration with his continuing output despite passing 80.
Delay in Plans
The back story to my interview with Piper in July of 2005 is that I had to reschedule it after unexpected admission to a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. When my cardiologist told me that morning he would have to admit me for a heart cath, I thought, “But I’ve got an interview today at 1:30.”
Since the book was in its early stages of its popularity, setting up another time wasn’t difficult.
However, recovering from two heart stents proved brutal. A year after the surgery, I looked at the calendar where I had scribbled a note about a trip that wound up getting canceled. Then I thought, “I’m sure glad I didn’t have to go.”
The memories of interviewing Piper and the daunting challenges of that time period came flooding back last week after another unusual experience: I had a dream that I had died.
Obviously, since you’re reading these words, that didn’t happen. Nor did I have the kind of Technicolor, full-orbed visitation to streets of gold and reunions with loved ones that would turn this encounter into a best-selling book.
Details of my dream are rather limited. I remember walking around on earth, realizing I had checked out, yet feeling no pain. I could still talk to people. However, after a couple got incredibly spooked when they could hear me but not see me, I decided to remain silent.
This dream left me with a couple major impressions, starting with the fact that if I wanted to say something to someone, I better say it while I have time.
After all, we literally don’t know what tomorrow will bring, as evidenced by the headlines of terrorism, natural disasters, and other tragedies that surprise us on a daily basis.
The second was an overwhelming sense of peace as I walked around. Those close to me were upset by my demise, but I wasn’t. The only regret I felt was not living a bit longer. I just wasn’t ready to go.
Related to that sense of peace was a revelation that I accept as coming from God. I had been making myself nervous lately because of a number of major book and article writing and editing projects on my plate. I have always dreamed of being this busy, but it has brought a new kind of pressure.
Through this dream, I sensed God letting me know that instead of dreading all I had to do, I needed to enjoy the process. Yes, I have a lot of work ahead, but it will get done the same way it always has—one step at a time.
When I woke up, I felt incredibly refreshed and relaxed. None of us knows how long we will live, but I intend to make the most of whatever time I have left.