My Descent into Death: A Second Chance at Life - Howard Storm
During a visit to Paris, Howard Storm, an avowed atheist, while waiting for emergency surgery, had a near-death experience. Outside his body, he was met by begins whom he describes as "the worst imaginable person stripped of every impulse of compassion... a mob of beings totally driven by unbridled cruelty" (17). In their grasp, he began to pray desperately anything he could remember - a mix of the twenty-third Psalm, "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the Pledge of Allegiance. The beings left as he basked in the fact that "Jesus loves me" - even in the darkness of death.
In the company of Jesus and the angels his life flashed before him: "They showed me scenes from my life that I would not have chosen, and they eliminated scenes from my life that I wanted them to see" (30). He was particularly struck by his "emotional abandonment" of his children (35). "As my adult life unfolded before us, my self-centered nature predominated, and this greatly displeased my divine company. I did very little that was not in my own self-interest. Other people's needs were less important than my own desires" (36). He realized he was being judged by the truth - for God cannot be deceived.
Having been given a second chance, Storm asks many questions of Jesus. The answers he gives about life, reality, truth, and love are simple, yet profound. After his resuscitation and healing, Storm began reading the scriptures and was amazed at how much his experience harmonized with the Bible. He has since become a UCC pastor an an artist.
I found this book deeply insightful and deeply moving. It gave me a new desire to preach with boldness as well as live by faith. And you can't ask for much more from a book!
Note: It's a shame that some won't read this because they will be uncomfortable that Storm's near-death experience was not all positive. But this must be balanced with the fact that his cry for the Lord - though frail - was heard and he was given a second-chance. Even more, his experience has led him to a fruitful life of loving ministry to others.