It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” begins the Charles Dickens classic “Tale of Two Cities.” As a young person I missed out on this and many masterpieces of literary excellence. But, like exercise, it is never too late to take up the classics. Funny how I enjoy reading now because as a young child and into my teens; reading was the worst of times.
Over a year ago, my good friend and prayer partner handed me a very interesting book to read.
To Heaven and Back is the story of Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon, devoted wife and loving mother. In 1999, while vacationing in the Los Rios region of southern Chile, Dr. Mary Neal drowned in a kayak accident. While cascading down a waterfall, her kayak became pinned at the bottom leaving her completely submerged. Even with companions nearby and their valiant rescue efforts, she was underwater too long and died.
The book chronicles her feelings and experiences in heaven, her discussions with angels and the deep sense of sadness when she realized it wasn’t her time. Without revealing too much of the story, Mary is mesmerizing as she describes her modern-day miracle.
This is one of several good books I have read on the subject of dying and going to Heaven and returning to life. What specifically caught my attention in this book was the author’s story of her son Willie. At four years old Willie told his mother that he would not live to see his eighteenth birthday. He was light hearted about what he said and the statement haunted his mother. As she recovered from the kayak accident, Mary came to believe one the reasons she was spared was to be a comfort to her husband and their three children when Willie passed away.
As Willie’s eighteenth birthday approached, Mary decided to share Willie’s childhood declaration with her husband. She had carried this alone for too long. Both would now share this ominous prediction in their hearts. Mary then had a dream that her son’s life would be spared and another boy would take his place. The next week her dream became reality and another boy her son’s age was killed in an automobile accident. Although tragically sad, she and her husband celebrated when Willie reached his eighteenth birthday a short time later.
Willie lived his life with compassion and shared his love with everyone. He lived a life with few regrets. He was an accomplished skier and appeared in Sports Illustrated as a world class champion. He served as a Wyoming delegate to the Democratic National Convention and spent time interning for Senator John Kerry in Washington.
At twenty, while roller skiing on a road in Maine with a friend, he was struck by a car and died instantly. The driver of the car never saw Willie on the road. His friend later told his parents that Willie had been talking the entire day about death and dying like, “he knew it was coming.”
Reading this story gave greater insight into the power of our words. The words from our tongue have the power of life and death. According to Matthew 15:18 Jesus said “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”
Our heart has been infected by the sin in this world which, in turn, can produce some of the most vile and deceptive utterances from the tongue. In stark contrast Psalm 33:6 reads “The LORD merely spoke and the heavens were created. He breathed the Word and all the stars were born.”
Thinking about the words we choose in everyday language, I was reminded of a period of time when as a young child my thought was much like Willie’s. I remember saying to God in my prayers before bedtime, “If I could just live to be twelve years old, then on my birthday requesting to live just a little while longer.” I continued this cycle of death and dying until recently. Yes, recently. Sad to say even as a Christian I didn’t realize what I was thinking in my heart and saying silently was powerful. We each have the power to speak out our own destiny.
In 2007 I took a stand, in my spiritual walk, and proclaimed out loud Psalm 118:17, “I will not die but live. And will tell of what the Lord has done.” Facing real heart problems, I realized my life had been consumed with dying young.
I had gone as far as expressing these thoughts with other people including my daughters. When I realized the wrong I had done by speaking these thoughts out loud and to others, I confessed this to God and asked my daughters to forgive me for my actions.
My wondering caused me to think that my heart condition may have been brought on by my deathly thoughts, even though my heart condition was a congenital disorder. I now pray over my heart, and the rest of my body, to line up with the Word of God. I also command my thinking to be obedient to Gods’ Word. His Word tells us the work He started in each of us will be completed on this earth. I began to live seeing His work schedule for me completely full, for many years to come.
Saying what we think we know can be hazardous to our health. Sometimes we can agree with the enemy about our life span or health and not even realize the danger of our agreement. I have heard many people say they have this disease or illness and accept it as normal, as if they can do nothing about it.
I have heard of others who predicted their own death and then accomplish their goal. We do have the power of God within us and He can empower us to do something about these things. Hebrews 4:12 addresses the word, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.”
We should be proclaiming Gods’ Word over ourselves and our family members regardless of the circumstances in the natural or what symptoms we are experiencing. This should be our prayer from Psalm 141:3, “Post a guard at my mouth God, set a watch at the door of my lips. Don’t let me so much as dream of evil or thoughtlessly fall into bad company. And these people who only do wrong-don’t let them lure me with their sweet talk!”