Devotions,  Life Stories/Lessons

How a Close Encounter with Death Led me to a Deeper Encounter with God

Photo by Jannis Lucas on Unsplash

Have you ever had a near death experience?

In 1993, I did. It was the week before Christmas, and I was a senior at a small, Christian college living in the dorms. Everyone had left to head home for the winter break, but I had to work, so I was one of two left on my floor. Not feeling well, I chalked it up to a cold, and kept plowing through.

One morning, I gathered the strength to take a shower and ended up passing out in the mint-green tiled stall. I came to, drenching wet, and had to army crawl my way back to my dorm room to call for help. There was no one around to rescue me.

I was dating Jason, my husband, at that time, so I called him and quickly filled him in on my predicament. I really don’t know how I managed, but I got dressed and made it to the front door where he scooped me up and set me in the front seat.  Weakness made it difficult to hold myself up in the seat, and I remember being slumped over, feeling miserable.

Encountering Death

After arriving at Urgent Care, I passed out on the table while attempting to change into a gown. The next thing I knew, I was being rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital. Doctors were murmuring about my white cell count being so low that they feared I wouldn’t wake up next time. Unable to figure out the source of my illness, specialists were called in to research and assist.

These specialists told my parents I might have leukemia and proceeded to do a bone marrow extraction. That “test” was more painful than I could ever describe. I watched my parents, with tears in their eyes, fear for my life. It was a long couple of days for them as I drifted in and out of consciousness.

Thankfully, after pouring through medical journals, one doctor discovered that I had a very rare and extreme case of a form of mononucleosis (mono). This virus nearly killed me and took about 6 months for me to fully recover and regain strength.

Encountering God

As I was thinking on Christmases past, this memory is the most prominent in my mind for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I never remember being fearful of dying. I vividly recall being so calm — feeling at peace. I hated seeing my loved ones worried about me and the fear in their eyes, but I never felt panicky or worried about not waking up. I knew God and experienced His presence in a tangible way.

Secondly, I knew in those quiet hospital moments that if I survived, I would marry Jason. He never left my side and spent many hours sitting beside me as I slept, writing notes and letters of love. My parents also saw his commitment and love to me in a way that they needed to witness.  Jason fought with me for healing, and I will never forget that Christmas and the time we spent together. 

Christmas didn’t feel so much like a regular ‘Christmas’, because it wasn’t filled with festivities and extravagant, fun presents, but it is one of the most beautiful memories I have tucked away. It was filled to the brim with a strengthened faith and the peace of Christ for me personally, and I experienced sacrificial love from Jason and my family in ways that I will treasure always.

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Opening a new pair of boots or attending fun parties holds nothing to this! So, if you find yourself in a place that you would rather not be this holiday season and are craving for the way it used to be, ask God to reveal how He is working and providing on your behalf. Perhaps He is doing a new thing, and you need to embrace the ride, find joy in new ways of celebration, and refocus on what is truly important…that Christ is worthy of praise in any season and knowing Him in a personal way is a precious gift!

Merry Christmas!!

Have you ever experienced a marked moment of faith in your life? How did it shape the way you lived afterwards?

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  • Patty

    I was t there in town when this happened, but I remember you going through it. I can’t imagine what your parents went through. I’m glad God had better plans for you & thankful you found Jason. This year it’s necessary for us to think about what we do have instead of what we don’t have. We are truly blessed by what God had done for us.

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