SID: John, tell me just one life experience that had quite an impact on the person and on you.

JOHN: One man I interviewed was an atheist college professor who was taking a group of students on a tour of museums in Paris. His lower duodenum ruptured. Usually within five hours, you die. There was no surgeon on call in the hospital. After nine hours he was in the most pain he’s ever been in. He passed. But what he finds is that he’s standing beside the bed. He thought when you die it’s like unplug the computer, lights out. But he found himself standing by the bedside and felt more alive than he’d ever felt before. He felt great. One minute he feels the worst he’s ever felt, then he feels great. Now, here’s what’s fascinating. You know, time and space and distance work different on the other side. He’s confused. He thinks he’s still alive and he’s trying to get his wife’s attention, but of course he can’t.

SID: Right.

JOHN: Well, a group of people are standing in the hallway of the hospital. They can’t quite see him and they say, “Howard, come with us.” He thinks they’re the hospital staff taking him to get surgery finally. He follows them and, to make a long story short, I write the full thing in “Imagine Heaven,” but they lead him to an outer darkness, just like what Jesus talked about. He starts to realize, “They’re deceiving me.” He tries to go back and they turn and they maul him. He said he was laying there and he doesn’t know if it was an eternity or how long thinking about his life. He had not been a good man. He had committed adultery on his wife, he had been self-centered, all these things, and he realized, “I deserve this.”

In that moment, a song came into his mind from when a neighbor had taken him to church as a kid. “Jesus Loves Me,” couldn’t even remember the rest of the tune. Something inside of him just cried out, “Enough! Jesus, if you’re real, save me!” A pinpoint of life begins and comes into this darkness, ends up this brilliance, brighter than the sun. Hands reach out, pick him up, and hold him as he sobs like a baby realizing, “This man I have cursed my whole life is real,” and there in the presence of angels gives Howard a life review.

One more thing. Howard, after that life review, comes back after two years, leaves his tenured college professorship, becomes a pastor. His wife’s still an atheist. She divorces him but he’s been a pastor ever since. Truly, I mean, a Damascus road.

SID: He had this life review. We’re going back to that. What is a life review?

JOHN: Yeah, this is another commonality, that in the presence of Jesus, He replays their lives for them. Now, what’s interesting is it’s like a panoramic revisiting your life, but from the perspective not only of yourself, but the people you interact with. What’s interesting, like Howard said to Jesus, “You’re skipping the most important part of my life, when I got this great award for Artist of the Year and Professor of the Year,” and Jesus said, “That’s not what’s important. I want to show you the students.” He showed him how he interacted with the students and what was going on in his mind and what was going on in the students’ hearts. He shows us how our inner actions, he shows us what Jesus said. Even when you give a little cup of cold water to a child, it matters. Every act of kindness ripples throughout humanity. But our negative things ripple throughout humanity, as well. You know, one of the things that confounds me, quite honestly, is that some come back in the presence of this God of love they never want to leave, but they don’t seek Him.

SID: That’s hard–

JOHN: But other comes back and they seek Him and they discover He’s Jesus and they give their hearts to Him. In the latter chapters of “Imagine Heaven,” I talk about rewards in Heaven because I think it is so misunderstood. You know, even that life review, that is not judgment. It’s just what Jesus said, that there’s no motive or thought or deed that won’t be laid bare. But that should not scare us, He already sees everything. It’s all laid bare right now. We think we can hide from God. We can’t hide from God. We’re only hiding from ourselves. But here’s the thing, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and He wants us to know that now.

SID: You know what? You have said enough. You should give your life to God right now. That’s what you should do. As of now, live for Heaven and bring Heaven on Earth.

JOHN: Absolutely.

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