My mother died a week ago Friday. 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, 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 ridden her own Gold Wing motorcycle until her 70s had been reduced by the ravages of ageing. Eyesight boosted by glasses was so dimmed that even with help of a magnifier she could barely read her Bible and daily devotionals. She struggled to hear even with the help of expensive 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 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.

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, they were rushing into the room…one to administer CPR with heavy chest compressions, another to seek a vein for med injection, still others to provide oxygen and set up monitors. After a few minutes, Mom was breathing, some on her own, some with the help of machines. For the next 22 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, He was lying behind her, with his hand providing the constant massaging of her calves that compression cuffs would normally provide in hospital. And as he massaged, he also held her hand. Although no words were exchanged, she says she felt wonderfully cared for.

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 Mom died Loretta had a vision 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 Mom, and the person pulling her out was my son-in-law Josh. Two days later on that Friday morning, Josh led the fire department crew that revived Mom, with Josh providing the CPR that re-established her heartbeat. Sometimes we use Christian-eze to glibly express commonly held truths…Christian-eze such as “God wasn’t caught by surprise by what happened.” The picture He gave Loretta two days before Mom’s death proves the truth of the saying, but I will never again say it casually.

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. This past 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…without 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 Mom, but far more importantly, a glimpse of what heaven will be like for those who love Him. Even as 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 been shown strong. Oh, that we all might die, to be filled with His newness of life. That life…the life that flows from His perfect love…has cast out all fear.