Published December 27, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"From The Realms of Glory"

What would it be like for a Christian to die, to visit heaven, but then be sent back – bodily revived to live out the remainder of one's natural life?

An amazing number of such cases have been reported. One such story was the account of the four-year old boy who died on the operating table, saw heaven, talked with people there, then was revived. It's recounted in the New York Times Bestseller "Heaven Is For Real," written by the boy's father, Todd Burpo, about his son, Colton. I'd recommend the book to you if you haven't already read it.

Recently, though, I came across another similar book called "When Lightning Strikes." It's the story of a grown man, Bobby Brunson, who was quite literally killed when he was struck by a bolt of lightning. Despite the best efforts of local medical personnel – who had no real protocol for reviving someone struck by lightning – he died and was clinically dead for 28 minutes, despite desperate medical efforts to revive him.

The amazing part of the story is what happened during those 28 minutes. He went to heaven. He saw and talked with his father, who had died a few months earlier. He saw and talked with his father-in-law, who also had recently died. And he saw, and visited with, Jesus. During his brief time there, Brunson saw miraculous things. He saw colors and objects unlike anything here on earth. Everything was perfect!  Absolutely perfect!  And it gave him a whole new perspective on life, death and heaven.

Then Jesus told Brunson he would have to return — for now. His life on earth wasn't finished. Just that quickly, surprised and incredulous medical staff started noticing signs of life returning to what they had considered a corpse. After many weeks of hospitalization and rehab, Brunson was well enough to go home.

Not only did Brunson have a new and stunning, life-altering perspective about heaven, but he also had a new perspective about earth – and it wasn't good: "You don't realize how imperfect this world is until you experience creation in perfection. The contrast between the streets of gold with black asphalt was a harsh reminder that I wasn't in Heaven anymore. Everything I looked at took me deeper and deeper into a hole that would try to consume me..."*  He battled depression for a long time to come. He even got upset with his wife, Kay, saying he was "mad at Kay for praying me back."

As I read Brunson's comments, it struck me that this – in a small way – must have been what the Lord saw and felt as He came to earth in the form of a child that first Christmas. He Who had felt no physical pain now experienced the pain of birth. He who spoke the worlds into existence now cried in a cattle trough. He voluntarily gave up (for a time) the glory He had with the Father "before the world was" (John 17:5). He left heaven and came to earth for one reason – "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

What a contrast! He left the indescribable glories of heaven to be born in a stable. He left the perfection of heaven for a sin-scarred earth. He traded streets of gold for a rocky path up Calvary's hill. He traded transcendent glory and total joy for the excruciating pain and agony of the cross.

He did it all knowing exactly what would happen. Why? He did it for you. He did it for me. He did it for "whoever believes in Him" so that they "should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). He sacrificed Himself "once for all" (Romans 6:10) so that you and I could be set free from sin, and could one day see the perfection of heaven and fully experience God's perfect love.

No matter how many sermons we hear about this, no matter how many books we read about this, no matter how much we ponder these truths, I think we will not even begin to understand fully the magnitude of God's love for us – until we see Him face to face. Until we experience that love in person. Until we can feel that love surging through our resurrected bodies. Until the "blinders" of this world are gone forever. Until our faith becomes sight (2 Cor 5:7).

Aren't you glad He set aside the glories of heaven — for you?

- Paul

*"When Lightning Strikes," by Kay and Bobby Brunson, p. 80.
Comments on this?

Copyright 2011 Heil Enterprises. All rights reserved.

Return to the Archives Index page for more recent columns.