Visions of Glory: One Man's Astonishing Account of the Last Days
Visions of Glory: One Man's Astonishing Account of the Last Days
Author: John Pontius
Publication Date: October 2012
Format: 6 x 9, Perfect Bound, 288 Pages
In this true account of near-death experiences, we learn about the miracles of the millennium, the return of the Ten Tribes, the building of the New Jerusalem and temple, and many other astonishing events long prophesied in scripture but never before described in such vivid detail. Visions of Glory is a mesmerizing and fascinating read that you will not be able to put down.
I just finished reading the book (about 4 total hours of read-time to get through the whole thing). I was fortunate to be on a long plane flight today and was able to read it all.
I will start by saying that this is the single most essential piece of reading for ANY member of the LDS church with even the tiniest interest in the last days. Everyone I know who has ever expressed even the tiniest interest in scriptures or prophetic quotes related to the last days is going to be getting a copy of this book from me.
In the past, I've read books like this with a serious personal spiritual caution. The fear is always that someone who's had an amazing experience will interpret that experience for you the way they believe it was meant for them. As we often realize with our own spiritual experiences, the way we interpret them is A) only for us, and B) often wrong the first time around -- as we grow and go through our lives, we realize the the intention of the message is often different from the way it was initially understood. Those who choose to INTERPRET their spiritual experiences to others do so at incredible risk.
Contrarily, "Spencer" did a masterful job at describing what he saw and experienced while carefully compartmentalizing his opinions and interpretations of the events. I was left with no confusion about what he saw versus how he interpreted what he saw -- leaving me to make my own decisions and judgements about whether the things he saw were likely literal, or metaphorical.
As far as whether or not the experiences of "Spencer" are real... "Spencer" is either one of the for-most authorities on the doctrine of the last days that lives today -- and was able to color the events described in the scriptures with an incredible amount of talent, research, and academic study -- OR he really had these experiences. Despite the INCREDIBLE amount of detail he goes into throughout the book, and despite covering basically EVERY period and set of major events of "the last days" from 'now' through the earth receiving it's celestial glory, "Spencer" left absolutely NO trace of a single scriptural or doctrinal discrepancy. (At least none that I detected, despite going through the book and scrutinizing every sentence).
The book is essentially broken into two pieces. In his first few experiences, he was given an incredible understanding of the spirit world, how spirits on the other side interact with us, their motivations for doing so (both good and evil), our place and purpose in the universe, how prayers are answered, how temptation works, how we will be judged, being careful of how we judge others, and being aware of our mission, purpose. He is even given a glimpse of the pre-existence that I found awe inspiring and glorious.
In the second part of the book, he describes his vision of the future -- at a level of detail that to him, at the time, must have felt like it took (literally) years to experience. He sees many of the things that we expect, and describes, in detail, how the events unfold. Including a great earthquake across the wasatch front, plagues, famines, invading foreign troops, and great persecution of the saints. He goes on to describe a series of events that include Adam-Andi-Ahman, the Cardston Temple gathering (perfectly consistent with others we've read), the call to gather to Zion, the calling of the 144,000, further wars, the mark of the beast, the gathering of the ten tribes (this part was incredible), the perfecting of spiritual gifts, the use of spiritual 'tools', the final gatherings, the actual second coming of Christ, the Millennium, the final rebellion, judgement day, and finally, the earth receiving its paradisiacal glory.
I can tell you that the spirit was INCREDIBLY strong as I read the book -- and I desperately wish I'd had a highlighter in my hand while I read it. (I was prompted, strongly, to read it again, and this time, with the proper ability to take notes and highlight important passages).
Unlike other folks who have posted "dreams" or "visions" of very small snapshots of events that are shortly to come, the contents of this book go into amazing detail of a variety of events and provide an INCREDIBLY hopeful and optimistic view of the outcome of the terrible events that are sure to happen. It puts the incredible suffering that we will each experience into perfect context.
This book brings so much color and life to the events to come that I simply would not have thought I'd ever be allowed to experience from a third party -- and yet, as I said, the spirit burned strong while I read every page. It's as though it is now "time" for this message to be understood by those who will read it.
YOU... MUST... READ... THIS... BOOK. It changed EVERYTHING for me.
Sneak Peak, Chapter One.
My First Experience with Death
was born dead. When I entered this world, my skin was dark blue and black. The doctor took one look at me and handed me to one of the four nurses in the operating room. I was tiny and premature, and the nurse could find no pulse or respiration. She wrapped my lifeless body in a newspaper and laid me in a stainless steel sink. My mother was bleeding badly, and the nurse hurried back to assist the doctor. They told her that I was stillborn and continued the surgery to save her life. She never told me this herself, but I learned later that she had been relieved that I didn’t make it because she had not wanted this pregnancy.
According to my mother, when the nurse returned to dispose of my lifeless little body wrapped in newspaper, she found me struggling to breathe. They immediately took me to Primary Children’s Hospital to see if I might survive the ordeal at last.
Later, after my mother had recovered somewhat from the surgery and there was a tiny hope I might survive, they informed her that her stillborn child had “pinked up a bit.”
When my dad was eighteen, he and some friends had gone for a joy ride. They were drinking and driving, and they struck an old man on the side of the road and killed him. My father was found guilty of vehicular homicide. But the Second World War had just brokenout, so the judge “sentenced” him to join the Navy. He was in the Navy until the war ended. The guilt, shame, and remorse due to the tragic death of this elderly man tormented my father for the rest of his life and contributed to the end of his affiliation and interest in religion, even though his parents remained ever faithful and continued to reach out to, pray for, and worry about him.
He and Mother married, much to the dismay of both of their parents, and endured a rocky and abusive relationship. After their divorce, my mother refused to discuss my father with anyone for the rest of her life. I never met him or knew much more about him than angry references and disparaging comments from other family members.
At the time of my birth, my parents were recently separated but not yet divorced. Mother had gotten pregnant just prior to the separation in a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. The divorce had turned nasty and verbally abusive. My father left and refused to support her or my older siblings. When she realized she was pregnant, she was at first angry, then furious, then depressed and resentful of her circumstances and of the little life inside her. My mother went back to work as a nurse.
My mother’s father was a Methodist lay-minister. When Mother had married my dad, who was a “Mormon,” her father had disowned her and told her that she was no longer a Christian and that she and her children were all going to hell. When she realized she could not provide for her family, Mother contacted her parents to ask for help. He reconfirmed that she was not welcome in their home. She had never felt more rejected, alone, and abandoned. This felt like yet another rejection and abandonment in a string of rejections she had experienced from her youth to the present time.
My father’s mother, my grandmother, easily convinced my grandfather that they needed to take my mother in and support her until she could get back on her feet. So when this time of great need came, my mother and we children were lovingly welcomed into their home. My grandfather was a bishop at the time, and my grandmother was a worker in the local temple. They were stalwarts in the Church and were loving people. As I grew up, my grandmother became the dearest person in my life.
My grandparents were such a loving and faith-filled influence upon my mother that she joined the Church five years after my birth. They were the solidity in her life, and in mine. They never failed us. We lived a blessed life, and because of my grandparents’ steady and sincere influence, affection, and generosity, my mother was able to take care of our financial needs. I often went without things I wanted as a child, but I never felt that we were poor. I felt safe and loved.
In the course of my profession as a child and family therapist, I have seen many other children whose lives and very souls were torn apart by mothers, who did not realize they were harming their unborn child, as they lived lives of anger and resentment because of the circumstances of their child’s conception.
I have struggled with these issues all my life and probably chose the profession I am in now to try to heal from those prenatal wounds. It wasn’t until 1983, almost thirty-three years later, that I finally understood what had really happened and was able to forgive her and my father.
That understanding came most painfully, and unexpectedly, the second time I died.
My First Post-Death Experience
It was September of 1983, and I was having health problems from chronic internal infections, especially in my kidneys, with several bouts of kidney stones. The doctors wanted to know if my kidneys had been damaged from the ongoing kidney problems. My doctor recommended an x-ray with iodine contrast dye to highlight any damage that may have occurred. It was supposed to be a routine procedure.
I was thirty-three by then, and I had completed a double master’s degree and was going to school to complete a doctorate program. Each time I had this kidney disorder, I had to stay home, lose time at work, and get behind in my studies. The doctor finally mentioned that I should just stop drinking soda pop, saying that if it weren’t for soda pop, he would be out of a job. I was amazed at how simple the solution was and amazed that he had not mentioned it years earlier. I quit drinking soda, and I have never had kidney problems since.
I was happily married to Lyn (not her real name, of course) by this time. We had five children and thought we were done having children. We were still struggling students, even though I was working full time in a hospital. We were anxious to complete my doctorate program so I could become a tenured professor and begin my own private practice. I was already on several faculties as an associate professor and instructor.
We arrived at the clinic a little early to fill out paperwork. I had to come fasting. We sat in the waiting room, listening for my name to be called. Before the procedure began, I changed into a hospital gown. I was escorted to a narrow metal table and told to lie face up. There were tubes and bottles of liquid dangling above my head.
The room was painted hospital green. A big, black x-ray machine dominated the far wall. The floor was green concrete with a black border. The walls were painted matching colors. It was a typical 1970s hospital procedure room.
I was feeling fearful of the procedure but thought it necessary, so I submitted as the nurse started the IV. She was young, blonde, and attractive. I assumed she was in her mid-thirties. I liked her friendliness, cheerfulness, and confidence. We spoke about the procedure and possible complications. She explained some of the possible symptoms of an allergic reaction to the dye as she carefully injected the dye into my arm.
She said, “If you feel flush . . .” and that very second I began to feel flush.
She continued, “If you feel your skin itching . . .” as I began to itch severely all over my body.
She said,“If you feel pressure in your chest or feel like you can’t breathe . . .” just as I felt a horrible crushing feeling in my chest as if an elephant had sat on me. I tried to say, “I can’t breathe!” but I couldn’t get the words out. I raised my free arm and hand to my neck and quickly drew them across my throat, trying to get the nurse to realize that I was in trouble. I grabbed my throat in what I knew was the universal sign of choking.
It was at that moment that the nurse comprehended my cues and realized something was seriously wrong. She ran to the near wall and pushed a large, red button. A buzzer went off loudly, and a recorded voice from the clinic’s PA began repeating “Code blue, room twenty-four, Code blue, room twenty-four!” Having worked in the hospital for many years, I had responded to such a call many times, never anticipating someday I would be the subject of such an announcement.
The next thing I knew, my spirit was sinking down through the table. I had my eyes wide open, not wanting to miss any part of this experience, and I just felt my spirit sink until I could see the underside of the table. I didn’t want to be under the table, and in an instant I found myself standing beside the procedure table looking at my lifeless body stretched out before me.
The large black and white clock on the wall right before me read 9:20 a.m.
The nurse tried to find a pulse and couldn’t. She swore and shouted back at the control room,“I’m losing him! I’m losing him!” A male technician rushed into the room.
Immediately people assembled to try to revive me. A doctor I had not seen before ran into the room, and for some reason, I immediately knew that he was having an affair with the nurse who started the IV. It came as a complete surprise to me that I knew this. I found my mind full of new information that was coming at me more from my heart than from my usual senses. I also knew that this nurse was recently divorced. I knew how much she valued and also feared this relationship with the doctor who was now working beside her to save me. I knew how hard she struggled to be good at her profession and still be a good mom to her two sons at home. I knew she had terrible financial problems. I knew everything about her, actually every detail of her life, and every decision, fear, hope, and action that had created her life. I could hear her mind screaming in fear. She was praying for help, trying to take control of her fear and remember her training. She desperately did not want me to die.
I looked at the other people in the room and was astonished that I could hear their thoughts and know the details about their lives just as vividly as the nurse.
There is a heightened spiritual sensitivity that comes from being dead that I had never anticipated or heard of before. I knew what everyone was thinking. Actually, it was greater than just knowing what they were thinking. I also knew every detail of their lives. I knew if they were good people or bad, if they were honest or corrupt, and I knew every act that had brought them to that state. It wasn’t something I felt or could see, it was just knowledge that was in me.
What was even more interesting to me was that I felt no judgment of them. I simply knew these things. It was like knowing a rose is red; it isn’t something to judge, it is just the way that flower is.
What I did feel, which was totally new to me, was a rich compassion for them and their circumstances. Since I knew so much about them, I also knew their pains and their motivation for everything they had done that had taken them to this moment in time. I also felt their fear of losing me.
Their actions and reactions were calculated, forcing them to remain calm. Only the doctor working on me felt a sort of detachment that allowed him to act with less emotion. Feeling their fear and the full impact of their lives caused me to experience their pain almost as keenly as they felt it, and I had total compassion for them. I did not feel fear for myself up to then. I was too busy coming to terms with all of these new sensations.
I found myself standing a little farther away. I think I had stepped back a little to give them room to work on my body, because they were walking or running through the same space where I had been standing.
“I must be dead,” I remember thinking. I had to think this process over a few times before it really sunk in. I am dead! It finally hit me as I saw my body on the table, me in a new body form standing above it in complete comfort and with no pain. Just moments ago, I was in the greatest pain I had ever before felt, and now I was completely free from all pain and the cares of that tabernacle of flesh. They were now gone. It was such a relief that discovering I was dead didn’t cause any great distress. I just accepted that I was dead because I was looking at my body there on the table. I was standing there watching all of these people trying to revive me. They were shouting commands and demands and injecting me with many life-restoring substances.
The next awareness I had was that I was able to comprehend many things simultaneously. I didn’t need to focus on any one thing, because they were all clear to my understanding. I felt like I could understand limitless amounts of knowledge and focus upon an infinite number of matters, giving each my absolute attention. This was amazing to me and so different from my experience as a struggling graduate student, trying to memorize volumes of information.
My Life Rehearsal
At this moment, I began to see a vision of my whole life. Because I had this new ability to comprehend so many things at once, the vision was all absorbing and important and curious to me, but I still had a full comprehension of each doctor and nurse around me and what was happening to my body.
The first thing I saw was my mother carrying me in her womb. I didn’t just see her, I completely comprehended her, her whole life, her pain and sorrows, every thought she had had, every decision she had made, every emotion she had felt. I realized that in all my life, I actually did not know my mother at all. I had always looked at her from a child’s perspective, and I had never been able to excuse her entirely for not wanting me. She had told me the story of how my biological father had left her pregnant, penniless, and homeless. She had never spoken unkindly of the fact that I had been born. However, she had made it clear throughout my life that we children were a great burden to her, and that she was left to do it all alone with no help.
I now saw her completely differently. I watched my own conception, and all of the emotion of that moment. As with all of this, there was no judgment from me or from God. I felt no emotion about it except increased compassion for my mother.
I saw that she had two other children, I being the third. I watched her every breath, every decision, every fear and tear she shed. I saw many people, mostly her professional friends, trying to convince her to either abort me or give me up for adoption. They told her I would be a constant reminder of my incompetent father and what he had done to her. I also saw others, her friends and church leaders, even my grandparents, trying to convince her to keep me and raise me.
I saw and felt my mother’s decision process in concluding to keep me. It was as if she had gone through this process so many times that she could see the outcomes from this choice and how it would impact her and me for the rest of our lives. She felt so alone and rejected.
She felt like a failure, and that she simply was not able to raise another child. Yet, she was also a nurse who had worked with women in settings similar to her own, and she felt that she could not subject her own child to the adoption process. She decided that sending me off to live with another family would not do anything good for her baby or for herself. She had an extremely difficult time with love, trust, and relationships. She was going through her own depression and sense of loss, so love was not a big part of her decision. She was thinking things like, “Two wrongs are not going to make a right” and “I need to clean up my own mistakes.” Her decision was not based upon love. It was based upon rationalization. She kept me out of duty and responsibility.
She had not been raised by loving parents. Her father was stern and physically abusive. Her mother was an invalid who was in her bed for the majority of the day. As I noted, she had been disowned by her parents, and she knew how awful that felt to a child. So, here she was choosing to do what was right, not what was convenient. Her depression and loss drove motherly love far from her.
I realized also that I had been involved in my mother’s life before I was born. I had, in a sense, been a ministering angel to her, watching and protecting her through the hard times leading up to my birth. It was a validating and peaceful insight for me. I wanted to be born to her, even in these trying circumstances, and she had made the difficult decision to keep me. I experienced the love I had had for her before I was born, and it has remained with me ever since. It has been a Balm of Gilead to my soul and has allowed me to not only forgive her but to fully understand her as a completely different person, one who really did love me, long before she or I had been born.
I saw all of the events of her life leading up to her going to the hospital to deliver me. I felt her fear and anger every step of the way. She was not healthy either physically or emotionally. The dark emotion of those days had sapped her life and robbed my unborn body of the vitality it needed to survive.
I watched my mother in labor and was amazed to see many angels attending my birth. Two of the nurses in the delivery room were not mortals but were angels. They were either translated persons or resurrected, because they had bodies. They acted like the other nurses, showing emotion and taking orders. But they were only there to help this woman and her child who was dying at birth.
My mother felt so alone. Her main emotion was of abandonment and sadness. She didn’t know anything about these angels that were there helping her, which seems to be the case in most angelic interventions. We are aware of only little of what the angels do. In her pain of giving birth under these sad circumstances, she didn’t realize that all of these spirit people were there, intervening, protecting, and bringing forth life. Even in her despair, divinely commissioned beings were there giving her strength and lovingly helping her so that she and I could have a life together.
As I was watching my own birth, I saw that my little stillborn body was indeed black and dark blue. I watched the nurse check for a heartbeat with a stethoscope. When there was nothing, she wrapped me in newspaper because I was covered with blood and dark fluids. I even smelled bad, and she didn’t want to soil hospital towels. She sadly placed me in the sink and returned to the operation.
The two nurses who were assigned to care for my newborn body turned away from my mother and began working with me in spite of the fact that I was dead. I realized that these two were angels, and they were assisted by other unseen angels streaming forth from heaven’s portals. I stepped closer to them. They had pulled upon the newspaper to reveal my pinched little face. It was black in color, covered in blood, and had I been in my mortal self, the sight of it surely would have made me ill. In spirit form, I found it curious and sad, and even more interesting that these two nurses were moving their hands into and out of my body. It was almost as if they were giving me CPR, but their hands were actually entering my little body. With each pass my skin grew a little more pink, a little more lifelike.
I could hear them speaking spiritually to one another, coordinating and focusing their rescue efforts. Much of their speech was praise and prayer, praying for God to bless their efforts and praising His mighty will. They were urgent, but not at all fearful or dismayed. I don’t believe they could see me, or at least they never acknowledged me as I anxiously watched on. I saw that little body in the sink, my own body, gasp for breath, struggling to live. The nurse pulled the newspaper a little farther open and turned to the doctor. Her face was serene, but her voice was one of feigned surprised. She cried,“Doctor! I think this baby is still alive! He has pinked up!”
By this time the doctor had saved my mother and stopped the internal bleeding. He turned around, his bloodied hands held up in front of him. His face was incredulous; nevertheless, he walked over to the sink. He glanced at the clock on the wall, preparing to announce the time of death of the infant. When he looked in, he ordered the same nurses who had revived me to get me out of that sink and warm me up. They turned and whisked me away to the understaffed and poorly functioning nursery. I was immediately transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital where I struggled to stay alive for weeks. I was placed in an old iron lung until I started breathing on my own.
When someone sees their life rehearsal, as I have come to call it, they see everything through the great objective lens of God’s love. I was seeing my whole birth, and my later life, through everyone’s eyes�my mother, myself, my siblings, my grandparents, and my friends�even people I had only accidentally interacted with. The thing that was overwhelming to me was that this experience was like attending your own funeral, and seeing your life spoken of by everyone who knew you�in fact, everyone in your world. Each person experienced you uniquely and differently. Not all of it was flattering or accurate, but oh what a treasure chest of information was gleaned from this unique vantage point!
I saw all of the good I did, all of the love I gave, the service and kindness�but I also saw all of the sorrow and pain I had caused. I saw all of my mistakes and how they affected everyone. I saw some mistakes that not only affected one person, but their children, and their children, on and on. I saw every act ripple through time until its power was dissipated. Fortunately, I was young, and I had tried to live a good life even in my youth, so this life review was not unpleasant to watch. Some of the things I saw made me feel pleased with myself. I felt like I was the only person who was being judgmental of my life.
I comprehended it all in perfect detail. In this great, revelatory detail, I saw myself as every person saw me. All of the judgment was correct and in righteousness. The good and the bad were all sifted in the light of Christ, and His judgment was sound, fair, and gracious. There could be no debate, because my life was recorded in perfect detail. I knew it was true, and I knew it was just.
I am still amazed at how objective my life review was. There was no judgment or emotion about my actions either from myself or from God. I saw and understood how my life impacted my schoolmates, my mother, and my siblings, which changed my perspective of almost every person in my life. In the review, I experienced my life through the eyes of others. I understood with perfect clarity how my decisions affected them, what emotions they experienced because of me, and the impact my words and acts had upon them throughout the remainder of their lives. I saw what their life was before, during, and after I intersected with them. I also saw the true outcome of their acts upon me, which was at times much different than I had perceived it at the time.
When I saw my biological father’s perspective on these events, and his leaving and divorcing my mother, I learned that it was not all selfishness, not all narcissism, as I had supposed all of my life. When he realized my mom was pregnant, he knew, or thought he knew, that I would be better off without him. That may not have been true, but that was his perception. He knew his life choices would only damage me. He did not leave me because of selfishness or because of alcoholism alone, as I had been taught. He truly thought that I would be better off without him.
I understood his pain, his childhood, his conflicts with his parents, and his relationship with his father. I understood those things perfectly, which no mortal can understand while yet mortal; not even my father understood it this way. I understood for the first time that my father actually loved my mother very much. His weakness and history handicapped his ability to let love triumph in his decisions. I also saw Christ’s love and Heavenly Father’s love for him, no matter what mistakes he had made.
This served to completely change my judgment of my mother and father and my assumptions of why they had done what they had done. This new perspective created great conflict in me because it changed almost every judgment and conclusion I had made during my life. It was all swept away a split second in this non-mortal time frame. I had seen things which now forced me to abandon my anger and resentment. It has literally taken me decades since then to reconcile what I was taught as a child with what I had seen really happen. At times my emotions and old thinking have taken up a bitter conflict within my mind and soul. This is the conflict that took so long to resolve because I knew the truth now, but my natural man fought against the spiritual insights gained through this non-earthly experience.
I don’t know, of course, if this conflict would have continued had I actually died. Maybe it would have all been resolved in the love of God, because all of this came to me without judgment or opposition.
When I returned to my body instead of dying and resumed my life, however, it was hard to reconcile my former beliefs with all that I had seen in vision. I was in the habit of thinking and believing one way, yet I spiritually knew a greater truth, one that my emotions had a difficult time yielding to, like a snowflake that remains on a leaf all summer, refusing to yield to the warmth of the sun. I can’t even say today that I am done with that work.
One of the obstacles to reconciliation of these conflicting emotions was that my father was already dead by this time, and I couldn’t resolve all this with him. My mother had not allowed me to even meet my father while he was still alive. Her strong-held belief and her conclusions and anger would push to the forefront of every conversation we had regarding my father. She refused to disrupt the position of justified resentment she had created for herself, which protected her from the rawness of her pain surfacing again and becoming exposed. I never succeeded in speaking the kindly words I had stored up in my mind regarding him in her presence. I finally had to conclude that I would leave these conversations and insights in the loving hands of our Savior for when He knows my mother is finally able to receive them in His impeccable timing and through the grace of His loving kindness. It wasn’t until after my mother’s death that I was able to start reconciling with her during several special spiritual experiences with her beyond the veil.
I have had spiritual experiences, not dreams or visions, but visitations from both my father and mother since that time that have assisted me in bringing peace to my soul and I think to theirs.
On one occasion, I heard the waiting room door in my outer office open and close. Someone came through the door and into the waiting room. I was in my office writing patient notes following my previous session. I said without looking up, “Please sit down. I’ll be right with you.” I heard whoever it was sit down. When I finished writing and opened the door, no human was there. I had this strong impression that my father was in my office. Through that same inner voice I had experienced during my near-death experience, he gave me a specific date, which was the anniversary of his death. I understood that he was asking me to go to the temple on that date. I happily did so, thinking I would see my father. But I went through the session without seeing him or even feeling his presence.
As I was dressing, I again felt his presence, and the message, given in the same powerful way, was that he was now worthy to enter the temple, and he wanted me to be there with him. It was a sweet message. It spoke volumes to me that he had prepared, repented, and was now worthy to be in the temple. As a result I knew that he had embraced and benefitted from our ministry in his behalf. It was and is a comfort to me.
One of the wonderful insights I gained from this first near-death experience was regarding my older sister, who became pregnant at age sixteen. I had never understood the powerful effect this had upon her or the rest of my family. While I was living those times, I had my perspective only. I was the third child and my self-assigned role in our family was that of peacemaker. I tried to keep the harmony in our family by inserting myself into everything�including places I didn’t belong. I saw that my judgment of her and her circumstances was not correct, even though I was trying to keep the peace.
I saw the impact that her pregnancy had upon my older brother. I watched him take a really long walk for three to four hours. I experienced what he was thinking and feeling and how he felt like he had failed her and the rest of us in some way. I understood for the first time that he decided then and there to make changes in his own life so that he would never let us down again. I was so surprised to see how he worried about his brothers and sisters and took responsibility for us. I was clueless about the intensity of his feelings until I saw him in my life review. It gave me great empathy and respect for him.
I also felt my sister’s pain and all of the reasons for her pain. I was not aware, until seeing it in this vision, that my mother and the parents of the baby’s father had taken them in a car to Las Vegas to get them married. I saw the pain and tension in the car as they drove there. I lived those events with her in a way that not even those mortals present could have experienced. It was the first time I actually understood my sister and sorrowed with her. I saw my youthful impact on her and how she felt shunned, rejected, and judged by myself and her family. It gave me great empathy for her and brought tenderness into our relationship in the years that followed.
I asked my mother and sister years later to verify what I had seen. My mother and sister both acknowledged that there had actually been a shotgun wedding. This confirmation gave me a rich sense of compassion and closeness to my family. It was a comprehensive illustration of the impact of my life on theirs and why our lives presently are the way they are.
My Friend, the Bully
I was frightened in my young life of the bullies in the school, especially of Jake. He was a year older, bigger, and just plain mean. He seemed to delight in terrifying me. At least once a week, Jake hit me or did something aggressive and mean to me. I went home with many bruises and black eyes because of him. Those were the days when adults figured it was best for boys to work out their problems and learn to stand up for themselves, so my mother and grandparents urged me to learn to defend myself rather than interfering in my life. I finally got up the courage in fifth grade to fight back. In my life rehearsal, I watched that day. I also saw my newfound courage from his perspective, which included the horrible abuse that he was receiving from his father.
When I stood up to Jake and hit him back, it totally changed his thinking about his world. I saw that he felt powerless and victimized himself. My little act of courage showed him that he was not. He never bullied me or anyone else again. He was changed by that experience. He became my friend because I had unknowingly given him the key to his own freedom from tyranny. Our new friendship allowed Jake to resolve his own relationship struggles with his father. He was emboldened to stand up to his father because of my action. Just as Jake stopped bullying me, his father stopped abusing him when Jake refused to submit, and his dad actually left shortly after that.
Seeing the impact that my friendship had upon him was a revelation to me. I had never suspected that there was any motivation for his bullying except meanness. After the vision, I understood why he had taken his frustration out on me and others.
From my life rehearsal I learned that this was all divinely engineered, that we both needed this close relationship, and it had to start with his bullying me in order to heal him. I saw that I had agreed to all of this prior to our birth. Our divinely ordained friendship had a lasting impact in his healing and his relationship with his family, and upon me. I could not have learned these things without him.
What I learned by seeing all of this was that our relationship was engineered by God and had a significant impact upon both of us. We both changed. I quit being afraid of bullies and of life in general. Not only did my actions begin the healing of his abuse, but his part in my life began my healing as well. I realized that fear was not necessary and that I could stand up for myself and actually make friends because of my courage. That realization still influences me today. Our relationship was ordained and engineered by God to save us both. In my thinking today, it was well worth the few bruises it cost me.
The last thing we did before Jake graduated and moved away was to perform in the musical Oklahoma! He played Jud, and I played Curly. In the musical, Jud and Curly are both in love with Laurey. Curly confronts Jud about his bullying and they become friends of sorts. But after Laurey agrees to marry my character, Curly, Jud breaks into the wedding and threatens Curly with a knife. In the ensuing brawl, Jud falls on his knife and dies. Curly, of course, gets the girl. The play was a metaphor of our relationship, which was not lost on either of us.
I have often pondered why God would let me see this life rehearsal, knowing that I was not actually going to die. My assumption prior to this experience was that you see your life rehearsal just one time, when you actually die. I wondered for years why God would give me this powerful insight into my own life and then send me back into mortality.
Relationships Are from God
The truth is that seeing these things changed my life forever and gave me a new perspective on all of my relationships and the purpose of my own life. I do not believe I could have accomplished all I promised to do without these experiences. Actually, I am sure of it.
I now know that relationships are not just serendipitous happenings or coincidences. All of these events happen for divine purposes. It has taught me that God truly blesses the details of our lives. These interactions and relationships, which might seem random in the moment, are ordained to bless and perfect our lives.
Since this intense review of my life, I have looked upon life and relationships as if it were a puzzle, knowing that all things and relationships have divine impact. My question from then on has been where is the divine purpose of this moment, this event, this relationship, or this person coming into my life? What am I to learn from these interactions, from this person’s entry or exit on the stage of my experience? I began to pray that God would reveal these things to me and that He would guide me to bless these people, rather than letting me wander unknowing through their lives. My prayer has become, “Let me be your voice, let me be your hands, let me be knowingly involved so that I can be inspired to do thy work in their lives.” I have personally failed in this purpose occasionally, but as I have aged my ability has gradually grown stronger and my resolve firmer.
From this vantage point of my life’s review, some events of my life that I thought were simple or mundane turned out to be meaningful and purposeful in God’s eyes. God really does count every moment of our lives, and if we let Him guide us, those moments become eternally significant.
It is interesting to me though that the negative impact of my actions on people was not the subject of my life review. It was there and I viewed it, but it seemed to matter less than the good I did and how it rippled down through their lives. When I saw the negative parts of my life, the message to me wasn’t how bad it was but that if I continued that behavior, it had the potential to take me away from the specific work that the Lord intended for me to accomplish in my lifetime. It wasn’t judgmental, just instructive. To achieve my fullest potential I needed to comply with the covenants that I had made premortally or I would not accomplish the purposes of my life. I have to remind myself that God was not showing a life review to a person who was actually leaving mortality, so my experience may have de-emphasized my mistakes to encourage and teach me. I have the sense that if I had actually died, there would have been no purpose in warning me and the weight of my negative acts would have been of greater consequence.
Finding out what we covenanted in premortality to do on earth is a continually unfolding discovery. Sometimes we can only know a tiny next step, and sometimes we are blessed with a sweeping vision of what we will become and do. I was being taught that I had to deliberately choose to be upon the path that God was laying before me, no matter how it came to my understanding, doing everything right that I know to do.
Since I was not going to actually die, the grand effect of my life review was to show me that I had the ultimate choice in my life. I was free to choose what I may; however, my choices would either take me to the light or leave me in darkness.
I also learned that our lives are all recorded somewhere, detail upon flawless detail. Everything we do matters�nothing is just trivial. It is all profoundly significant, and life is meaningful and full of purpose.
Our Lives Matter
I learned to not minimize what is going on in my life. I try to see everything I do as being of eternal worth. I learned, and have trained myself, to believe that I am not just a simple person with little worth or impact upon the world. Everything we do has import, and God is involved in the details of our lives. I believe you can go so far as to say that He is in the minute details of our lives. I used to think God was a stern and divine parent who just sent us to earth and said,“Go to it, and we’ll see how you did after you die.” But the truth is that for Him, and His angels, we are truly His work and His glory. We are what He is doing. We are what He is about.
I learned that families, brothers and sisters, cousins, and aunts and uncles have divine purpose in those affiliations and connections. Even though it might be easy to criticize or ignore people, in truth, those connections are all-purposeful.
I learned that there truly is a return and report system in our present life, which we don’t use properly. I recommend that we get used to doing this in our daily and family prayers and in our relationships, that we practice returning and reporting.“This is what you asked me to do today, this is what I did, and this is what happened”�and then plead for eternal intervention in the details.
I learned that our entire existence is this way. God gives us some element necessary for our journey, even before we were born, then He gives us time to explore and experience life, and then He requires us to report. Now he has given us a body and a mortal experience, and we will all be required to report. The accounting of our lives will be in great detail, for our very bodies tell the story of our lives. Every part of us has written upon it all we do, believe, and are. The Lord can read all this in its entirety. He can and will read us like a book, for it is all within us, written on our very bones, hearts, and sinews.
Dispensational Priority and Purpose
Finally I learned that there is dispensational priority and purpose for why we are here at this time. It is not random. It is not accidental. It is divinely engineered, and when we make our final reporting, we will again see all the reasons why we came to earth now and the interacting purposes and covenants that we made that sent each of us to earth at our specific time and place to do specific things. To us mortals, this is a misty concept, but to God, it is an exact science�divine math, if you will. He records every act of our lives, including his continuing guidance, which most of us ignore.
We spend so much time entertaining and pleasing ourselves that we do not fully realize how important every moment and every interaction truly is to God. Most of us are trapped in our own lives of business and pleasure, so much so that we don�t even feel the hand of God directing our lives, nor do we hear His voice, which is constantly directing us.
All of this information came to me very quickly as I stood there watching the doctors trying to resuscitate my body. All of these things were going on simultaneously, and I could focus upon them all.
Visiting My Wife as a Spirit
I became aware of my wife sitting out in the waiting room. She had been reading a magazine at the moment the PA system began blaring “Code Blue! Code Blue!” Lyn began to worry about me, fearing that it was me that was in trouble. I knew she was worried in the same way I knew everything about the nurses and doctors. I wished to be near her, and I was instantly standing beside her. I apparently moved at the speed of thought. I don’t recall walking or moving through walls, I was just there.
My complete attention went to her, though doing so did not diminish my understanding or complete attention to what was still happening around my body. I knew I had come through two walls to be in the waiting room with her, but I did not experience passing through them.
I found myself standing right next to her. I could tell everything about her. I knew exactly what she was feeling and thinking. I knew what she had been reading in the magazine she had just placed on her lap. She was concerned and wishing someone would come tell her that I was okay, that I was not the one having the cardiac arrest.
I thought, Here I am. I’m dead and out of my body, and I can’t even communicate with you. I felt empathetic for her fear and pain, but it struck me as a dilemma, even a bit funny. I could see her and hear her thoughts, but I couldn’t talk to her in a way she could understand.
I remember thinking, How am I going to let you know that I am all right even though I am no longer living?
I began to wonder if she would be able to sense me, or hear me perhaps, if I moved through her. I asked her in my mind if I could have her permission to move through her. Even though she was not aware of me, her spirit answered, “Yes.” I instinctively knew I had to have her permission to do this. I understood this, but I’m not sure why or how. It wasn’t until later that I began to understand that entering another person’s body is very invasive, and a righteous spirit always seeks permission if it is ever necessary. Evil spirits wait for opportunities when we are spiritually weak or after we have rendered ourselves vulnerable by disobedience to God’s laws, and they enter into us in an act of spiritual violence.
After her spirit responded that I could, I moved through her, and I immediately understood the difference between her physical body and her spiritual body. Her physical self had no realization that I was interacting with her. Her spiritual self, however, was fully aware of me and what I was trying to do and say. The problem was that like most mortals, she was only aware of her physical body�captive to it, so to speak�and not in tune with her spirit at that time in her life.
I realized that moving through her was of no advantage to my trying to communicate with her. As I passed through her, I learned many things about what her experience in mortality had been like� what it felt like to be a woman, to be loved, to be protected, and now to be fearful for her protector. I understood her completely, including what it was like to have our sons and daughters, and how hard it was to live with my illnesses and struggles.
Angels among Us
Lyn was sitting in a crowded waiting room. After I passed through her to no effect, I began looking around the room. I could see that there were many spirit persons in the room along with the mortals that were there.
The mortals looked really different from the spirit people. Mortals are solid looking and appear to be completely unaware of anything spiritual going on around them, almost rendering them unintelligent looking.
Spirit people are semi-transparent. I could see through them to some extent, and they seemed to be aware of me and of the other spirits in the room. Some were not happy that I could see them but nonetheless continued interacting with mortals and other spirits as they went about their purposes. All of the spirit people I saw were surrounding mortals, observing them or trying to gain their attention so they could influence them in some way. There were other spirits walking in and out of the waiting room. I could see them, and they could see me. They sometimes acknowledged my presence or walked around me instead of through me.
There were spirits there who did not realize yet that they were dead, or they refused to accept it. These were quite peculiar to me, for they tried their best to act like mortals even though it was clear to me and every other spirit present that they were dead. I could understand why they didn’t know they were dead. Being dead and being a disembodied spirit is a real existence. You still think like you did. You still love and hate just like before your death. You can see people, spirits, and your own body. You can touch spiritual things and spirit beings and feel them. So it is a real and concrete form of existence even though mortal things, like walls and furniture, can be seen and sensed but cannot be manipulated by spirits.
I’m not sure if every spirit has the same spiritual perception I did, but I knew their new lives were real to them, even more real in some ways, because they could come and go to places very quickly and walk through walls and do things mortals can hardly imagine. Being newly disembodied did not feel like the death they had expected to experience, where you just became unaware or nonexistent forever. So to them, they were not dead by their previous understanding of what constitutes death.
These spirits were gathering around mortals, talking to them as if they thought the mortals were listening to them. But the mortals were completely unaware of them just as my wife was unaware of me. These disembodied spirits were trying to get the mortals’ attention by various actions, including shouting at them.
These spirits were dressed like normal mortals. They had little glory around them. I began thinking of them as “recently disembodied spirits.” Those spirits who had recently died maintained the look, manner of dress, and shape they had while they were mortal because they seemed to still not believe they were dead.
One male spirit was speaking to a young woman who appeared to be his daughter. He was upset about his business, and how she was handling it. He was shouting at her, “You need to listen to me!” but she had no idea that he was even there. He acted like she was just ignoring him, and this seemed to infuriate him even the more. He was demanding that she do certain things with his business and his property, and he was perturbed about whatever it was she was doing wrong by his thinking.
There were other spirits there who had embraced their altered state and had entered into God’s employ to do His work according to His will. These angels had been sent back by God to assist their loved ones through this difficult time. These angels had a recognizable glow about them, which told me instantly that they were good and on an errand from God.
These good angels were dressed differently. Some angels wore robes while others wore old-fashioned clothing typical of when they had lived. They were there to assist the mortals with things that were happening. Some were sent to assist and prepare mortals for their own death. They were speaking comforting words, giving instructions, and teaching. Even though the mortals seemed unaware of their helpers, if they were listening with their hearts, they were comforted, and they began to glow the same as the angels who were assisting them.
Some of these good angels were there to minister to the spirits who could not accept their own death. These angels were dressed in white robes and were glorious to look upon. They were following the disembodied and confused spirits, speaking to them when they could get their attention and enfolding them in their glory. They had joy in their labors and purpose in their actions. They were there by commission of Jesus Christ. I understood that all of these angels were family of those to whom they had been sent. Some were recent ancestors, like parents or grandparents. Others were from long ago.
I was just new at observing spirits, and since that time I have learned a great deal more about them and how they work. I know now that there are definite classes of angels and levels of righteousness among the angels. This is visible to the eye when one is familiar with spirit beings. Just as I could tell everything about the doctors and nurses who were working on my body, I could tell everything about each of these spirits. That is how I knew they were family members. I learned that once you are born, your spirit takes the shape of the body it is born into and honors that shape because it was given to them by God. Even though they can change shape or appearance if God desires it, they always return to their natural shape, which is the shape of their former bodies.
I also learned that the greater angels, those with more glory and greater power, can withhold their identity, so that someone like me, with little experience, could not know what their mission was, who they were, or anything about their history. I met a few of these greater angels in the waiting room as they were administering to their charges.
There were also evil spirits in the room. They were there to tempt mortals, disrupt the work of the angels, and to cause any harm they could. They delighted in their mischief. These spirits had no light about them at all but seemed to emanate darkness.
These evil spirits were not readable to me. I knew some things about them, but not their identity or history. They gave me a bad feeling even to look at them.
They seemed to be able to change their shape to morph into some other shape if they desired. I realized that a spirit who has never been mortal has no definite spiritual shape. I saw some of these evil spirits appear as a child, others as a man in a business suit or a beautiful young woman. It became evident to me that the unborn spirits could choose their shape, just as Satan did in the Garden of Eden by appearing in the shape of a snake. This was the first time I realized that spirits who would never receive a physical body had the ability to appear any way they chose. They could take on the appearance of a living individual if it helped them deceive or to fulfill their assignments. They could appear in the image of a grandfather, a dead prophet, or someone’s wife if it helped in their deception.
They are out to do great harm, as much as they can, and they did not like it that I could see them. Most of the evil spirits were there on assignment. They were trying to create fear, confusion, and distress, anything that kept the mortal they were assigned to from hearing the messages from the angels of light who were also there. Not only did they speak to the mortals to afflict them, but they laughed and mocked them and delighted in their pain and fear. If they could have convinced another mortal to stand up and torture or torment their assigned target, they would have done so in an instant. They were evil beyond any definition of evil I had before understood. Most of these evil spirits were there by commission from their master. They were not just out wandering the earth, looking for mischief to do. When they realized that I could see them, they moved away from me, sometimes vanishing and reappearing in a different part of the room. I realized I could communicate with them, but I had little desire to do so, and they refused to do any more than glance at me before they moved away. The good angels, the ones that glowed with light, acknowledged me with a nod or smile and sometimes allowed me brief glimpses into what they were doing there in that waiting room, but then they quickly returned to their assignment. I knew the evil spirits could see me because they avoided me. But the disembodied spirits, the dead who refused to acknowledge their own death, did not even seem to see me, nor did they attempt to communicate. I believe they could see me, because several of them stepped around me, but they did not talk to me, similar to how people act in this world around one another.
I met spirits in that experience, in the hospital that day, who had not learned this simple lesson of the eternal worth of their own lives; they were still trying to protect their possessions, businesses, and bank accounts, and ensure that their “things” were still theirs. They were hanging around living people, refusing to move on into the next part of their own journey because they had never learned to trust God and sacrifice their worldly possessions in obedience to God’s will for them. They would not even acknowledge or talk to the angels sent from God to help them move on into their new lives. They didn’t even seem to see them, though I could see and hear them plainly.
I could see that before their death, those people had not learned to hear or acknowledge the direction God gave them while they were living, and after their death that deafness to God’s guidance persisted. The same blindness and obstinacy and disobedience of mortality simply followed them into the world of spirits.
We should perhaps ask ourselves: Have we accomplished what we came to earth to do? The other side is constantly intervening to help us to learn what we need to learn so that we can accomplish our life’s mission. We are sent here to accomplish our own work, to heal the wounds of past generations, and to bless those who follow us. The evil spirits are constantly attempting to derail us from our ordained path.
During all of this time of seeing and understanding these various spirits in the waiting room, I remained aware of what was going on with my body in the procedure room. The doctors and nurses were still working feverishly on me. They injected my heart with epinephrine, and my body started to revive. I could feel it calling to me, demanding that I return to it.
I left my wife and walked back down the hallway they had taken me through initially. A voice other than my own informed me that I needed to get back to my body quickly. I said to myself,“I need to get back to my body!” and turned to walk through the wall into the procedure room. They were still working on me, trying to revive me.
I found myself going through a process that felt similar to when I left my body, but it was not ready, and I found the experience excruciating. I tried to remain in it, but it was horrifyingly painful. I exited my body the same way as before, out of the bottom of the table and around to standing beside my body. The doctors were still doing CPR and working on me.
The Ministry of Angels
I looked around and saw three individuals in the room standing opposite to me, across from my body. They were looking at me (not at my body, but directly at me) with expressions of great interest. The two on the left and right were angels who had once been mortal and who were now accompanying the spirit between them who had not yet been born. I knew instantly that they were training him.
The angel on the left was a thin man with a kind of goatee beard about three inches long, as white as snow. I knew that he had lived well into his eighties. Because of the ability I have explained of knowing everything about other spirits and mortals while in that state, I knew who he was.
The angel on the right was a younger man. He had lived on earth later than the first angel. Both of these angels were progenitors of mine. They did not identify themselves, but I knew that they wereblood relatives. They were there protecting the life of my body on the operating table. These two older angels did not appear concerned and did not show much emotion. They both had white hair and the aura of wisdom, light, and righteousness.
The young man in the middle was a full head taller than the other two angels. He was slender but strong looking. He had no beard. His hair was dark. He had piercing brown eyes and an aura of gentleness. He had not yet been born, but I felt his profound love for me, which flowed from him into my soul. He was very concerned for me in this emergency situation and did not possess the other two angels’ confidence and serenity.
The three angels were speaking to one another nonverbally. I could hear them. The teaching angels were comforting the younger one. “It’s fine. Everything’s fine. No need to be concerned. We are here to ensure Spencer returns to his body. Have faith.” All three of these men manifested love and concern for me. I knew that they were there for me, that I was their concern and their business, and that I was family to them.
When I finally returned to my body, I was not allowed to remember their identities. But I believe I have identified all three individuals through family photos in the genealogy in my possession. The angel on my left was James Henry. He was my great-great grandfather. The angel on the right was his son Harold Henry, my great grandfather. They look exactly like their old photos. The unborn spirit in the center was my unborn son, Spencer Junior. I wasn’t able to identify my son Spencer until he grew into his late teens, and I realized one day that he looked exactly like the center angel. Counting myself, there were four generations of family in the room.
As I was looking at them I was given to understand that it is a family responsibility to serve as ministering angels. It is a family responsibility to heal, teach, minister to, protect, and preserve the family connections and covenantal relationships in the spirit realm and in the mortal world. This is their first responsibility as departed spirits. Until that work is done, until the family relationships are preserved and sealed, other things must wait. They were at the hospital to assist me because my mortal work was not finished, and in a way that I could not understand until much later in my life, my continued life was important to our family and to them personally. My unborn son was particularly invested in my continuing mortality, but there was much more to his concern than his birth. He was acting out of his love of the Savior and under His guidance was there to be with me in my time of need.
In the world of departed spirits, the teaching of the gospel to past generations must come from righteous souls who acquired it during their lives. In other words, you must acquire the gospel here on earth before you can be a missionary and minister to those who departed before you who, for whatever reason, did not embrace the gospel during their mortal lives. This is one of the reasons the righteous departed are welcomed with such joyful reception in heaven, because some of these earlier generations have been waiting a long time for a descendant of theirs to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because of this, the spirits of the dead are excited for us to receive the gospel ordinances and authority and then complete our mortal lives and return so we can teach them and bring the gospel blessings to them on that side of the veil.
Even though we are only dimly aware of how the gospel works on that side of the veil, there is almost a mirror image there of everything we do here. Every ordinance we attempt to bestow here has a corresponding ordinance on that side of the veil. We speak of the departed as “accepting or rejecting” our labors in their behalf. Their acceptance constitutes an ordinance in their world. It is one of the great urgencies of that world, to keep up with the work going on here in mortality. The timetable is advancing so quickly that the righteous dead are often in a great hurry to complete their assignments, and they have little time to pay a lot of attention to small matters.
In the great circle of things, most blessings given to mortals also come from their righteous dead. When we pray for a great blessing, need, or healing, Jesus Christ sends our righteous progenitors as ministering angels to deliver the blessing. If we have no righteous forbears, then the blessings must be attended to by other righteous workers there, of whom there is a short supply. Any angel who is able to deliver these blessings works first with their own families and then goes on assignments to bless others. This means that our blessings may be delayed in coming or seem to arrive just barely in time. They are busy working to establish the relationships and to protect and bless them. Deceased family are watching and waiting and guiding us into fulfilling our righteous mortal duties so that we can return and teach and bless them. I also learned that it is a great blessing to have been born into a family where those who have died before were righteous, powerful men and women, sealed in the covenant relationships, generation after generation. They have greater power to bless and guide mortals.
I was told to try to go back into my body. I’m not sure if it was the three angels who instructed this or my own thinking, but I rose up and tried and again found myself rejected in a tremendously painful way. I am quite sure that if spirit bodies could be injured, that experience would have done me great harm. As it was, I was unharmed and had no lingering pain except for the memory of it. Again I found myself standing beside the procedure table, looking down at my body.
The Power of the Fall
One of the most profound realizations I had in this experience was to see the difference between my spirit body and that sick body lying there on the table. This was the first time that I had experienced the juxtaposition between my spiritual self and that mortal self. I was aware of the growth that my mortal body was lacking in order to reach the potential of my spirit self. My spirit was eternal, intelligent, perceptive, and powerful. My body was broken, subject to death, mentally slow compared to my spirit, unaware of almost everything spiritual, and weak in every possible way.
It was then that I began to realize how far we as mortals have fallen. I learned that we were different from how we were before the Fall. Looking down on my body, I knew everything about it, how much time it needed and how much growth and exposure to truth it needed in order to be “finished” or completed, to be able to receive all that Father had prepared for it to receive. That was quite clear to me. I understood all the changes my body needed to experience to become fit to return to the presence of the Father, and it seemed almost impossible to accomplish everything in the short duration of mortality.
This first experience out of my body created the recollection and refreshed my memory of who I was and who I might become through obedient choices. I then made a commitment, a covenant you could call it, between myself as a spirit and my body, that I would do everything that I had to do, to allow my body to receive every change and upgrade and sanctification it needed in order to return to Father with me inside it.
While just in my spirit, I was pure, complete, knowledgeable, and I knew exactly who I was and where I came from. My spirit was in the image of God�and I knew this clearly. A spirit does not have a complete veil of forgetfulness when it is liberated from the body. I knew that I came from the Father and had the full potential to become like the Father. When I was in my spirit self, I was all of these things, and there was no question or uncertainty about anything. My spirit self only wanted to do the will of God and nothing else.
But in the body, I was handicapped by spiritual blindness and moral weakness, and I was blinded by the screaming demands of the flesh. I was full of questions, uncertainty, pride, corruption, self-will, and desires for evil. Worst of all, I could remember nothing of my prior life with Father�I didn’t even have a clue who I really was. The contradiction between my two identities was overwhelming and paralyzing. I understood that this disparity was all a result of the Fall of man and that I had to overcome those things by obedience to Christ’s gospel and laws.
In the next experience out of body, which I will tell about later in this book, I saw all of the sorrows and trials and struggles I needed to go through to refine that mortal body in order to actually arrive at the state I had just promised I would achieve. In all honesty, after seeing all of the trials I would go through, I couldn’t see how I would ever make it. My ego was washed away because I immediately knew I couldn’t do it in any way except by the full and unending grace of Christ. It had to be a miracle of the Atonement, because I knew my weaknesses too well to think I, or any mortal for that matter, was strong enough to do it alone.
Finally, in my last out of body experience, I was shown the end result of that journey, when and how I would eventually triumph over all of these things, keep all of my covenants, obey all of the commandments, and finally bring my body back into the presence of Christ, having overcome the Fall, being redeemed by Christ�then it was ready to fulfill our mission�“our” meaning my spirit and body�in the latter days. Previous to these experiences, I had no idea that there was a distinct preparation for my body. I thought “I” was my body, and I was growing through my experiences. I learned that “I” am in fact my spirit self, who already has a godly nature, and rather than overcoming my body, as in beating it into submission, my struggles were engineered to elevate my body to the stature of my spirit.
I will get back to those other experiences later on. At this point I was still outside of my body in the hospital, waiting for my spirit to reenter my body.
Exploring the Hospital
I decided I had a little time before my body would be revived. I expected it to be revived, mostly because of the confidence and words of the three angels standing there near my body and because I had not been called away from the hospital. I had not seen a tunnel of light or a heavenly messenger as I had actually expected I would. So I just assumed my destiny was to survive somehow and live on. Time for a spirit moves differently than for a mortal, and even if it was just a few mortal minutes, I had time to explore this amazing situation of being out of my body.
I decided to experiment and have a look around. I know that might sound frivolous or that I didn�t care about my mortal life. The truth is, I loved my life, my wife and my children�all of it, and I was not hoping to die. But another truth is that I had been sick and in pain for a long time, and being out of my body was a great relief. I felt great peace and a total absence of fear. Each time I had tried to return to my body I found it to be horrifyingly painful. There just aren�t words in the English language that would make it possible for me to say how excruciating it was. My body was very, very sick, and as I moved into it, I could feel that sickness and pain beginning to again overwhelm me. But even more than that, it was kind of like be- ing squeezed through a very small opening under high pressure. The process of reentering the body was agonizing all by itself, and the fact that it was sick and in pain made the whole experience the most unpleasant of my whole life so far.
So with this keen ability to perceive everyone�s thoughts, even their history and future, and with a naturally curious mind, I thought I might as well enjoy the few minutes I might still have until my body called for me to try again. Until then, I had no plan to attempt it of my own volition.
I had already experienced walking through walls and was curious to experience that again. I felt comfortable doing this because I continued to be completely aware of what my body was experiencing no matter where I was in the hospital.
I turned away and walked to the nearest wall, paused a moment, and then stepped through into the next room. I found myself in a doctor�s office, having walked through a wooden desk, a wooden chair, and a leather couch.
Hearing the Wood & Rocks
I paused for a moment to let the flood of information settle into my mind. As I had passed through the desk, I realized that it had been made from three different trees. I saw each tree. I knew them from the moment their seed germinated until they were harvested, milled, and crafted into this desk. There was a living component in the wood. It was intelligent but had little will. It was content to be wood, and it was pleased that someone had chosen it to be shaped into this desk. It was a rolltop desk and quite beautiful. I knew that the desk understood the love the craftsman had put into his work on the desk. The desk also felt pure and worthy because it had never been used in anything that offended God.
I want to say much more about this phenomenon, of understanding physical things, but words fail me. I understood the emotion and motive of the man who cut it down and knew his name and all about his life too, as I did everyone who every touched or used the desk. I understood everything about the cotton stuffing in the seat and the leather from the sofa. All of it welcomed me and was pleased to communicate to me its life and how it had come to be that couch. I understood the several cattle whose hides covered the couch and their lives and their sacrifice. They had left all that information with their hides but the spirit of the cow was elsewhere, not in the leather, but still pleased and content with the benefits to mankind that its life and sacrifice had rendered. It was pleased that it was of benefit to the children of Adam.
The Purpose of Things
I might sum it up this way: All things on this earth are placed here for the purpose of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Some things are here to feed us, some to comfort us, some to create beauty, shelter, even medicine. Some things are here to bring opposition, pain, and discomfort. But they are all here to create this world that exalts man. All of it is God�s plan, and no part of it is dispensable. Even mosquitoes and viruses are part of the plan. My experience with all of these non-human things was that they are pleased that they are fulfilling the measure of their creation, and that the reward for doing so is acceptable and delightful to each of them.
It was stunning to realize that life is so much more intricate than we can imagine or envision while in this mortal body. God has provided a complex and inspired system to exalt us. A big part of it is to give us the opportunity to be in a body, a body that desires almost everything contrary to God�s plan. Jesus Christ exposes us via the Holy Spirit to all that is true, speaking to our spirit every time we must choose between good and evil. Then when we sin, we can repent and obey His laws to let the Atonement work for us. All of this process is designed by God to bring our spirit with our body into compliance with the laws of God and to return body and soul, inseparably connected, back to the presence of God to be judged�to report back.
Our Premortal Glory
It was intriguing to me to see that our spirits came to this earth in an almost godlike state. I expect that there are some spirits that came here with impure motives and desires. But I found that my spirit only desired good, only desired to be in harmony with God.
It was my body that was the slave of mortality, desiring things which were contrary to God’s plan for me. When my spirit was placed in my body at birth, and it lost all of its memories of my long and good life before birth, it fell, or became subject to the Fall of man when it entered my body. The big part of the purpose of mortality is be cut off from God, thereby being forced to learn to listen to the voice of Christ and to overcome our body’s mortal pull. In the same process, we are also learning to perfect it, to teach it perfect obedience to the will of Christ, and in so doing, to overcome the world�and the Fall.
To me, one so inexperienced in the deep and divine things of the spiritual world, all of this was “delicious” to me. I was thrilled to experience these things and felt love coming from everything I touched�even the rocks, leather, and wood. I delighted in the love I felt flowing from myself back into them. It seemed that everything that had been created by God had its story and was pleased that I had been able to hear them. I only heard contentment and praise of God from these things.
I found that man-made things, like steel and plastic, were harder to walk through, and had no voice. I couldn’t discern their story or their history. They were dead to me at that time. I learned later that they were a part of the living earth but did not learn until much later how to experience the earth. I simply was not ready for it at that time�and was hardly prepared when it happened far into the Millennium. Communing with a piece of wood is kind of like having a puppy step on your toe, wagging its tail, welcoming you with its cute little soul and lovable personality. Talking with the earth is like having a planet land on your body, bearing the weight of a great, great intelligence, of a perfect knowledge and flawless memory of all good and evil that has existed on her face, and of the cries of righteous blood sounding up through the centuries for justice, of immense sadness, godlike patience, and the most joyous rejoicing in its final deliverance. It is to stand face-to-face with a living, brilliantly intelligent being the size of a planet, who is both loving and angry, anxious and patient, having been true and faithful in all things. It is not something one can prepare for without great spiritual experience and divine preparation.
I was quite interested in rocks and natural stonework, whose voice was ancient, predating the formation of the earth. It remembered its creation and luxuriated and rejoiced in being beautiful and useful to man. I found that I liked rocks. They all magnified Christ. I liked their company and sense of timeless patience and eternal worship of Christ.
Now consider, if I could enjoy rocks, whose intelligence and agency is so limited and less divine, how much more profound and glorious are human beings, who are so much more than rocks, yet we don’t value them except for what they might do for us. Every person you meet has been alive forever! They predate earthly creation and are gods in infancy. Yet we see them as clerks, doctors, friends, family, or even as enemies or a source of our trials. But we seldom see them as they are�potential gods. I saw this as a tremendous impediment to our own growth. It speaks to how far we’ve fallen because not so long ago in the eternal scope of things, when we understood the plan far more clearly and we understood the worth of every soul, we were becoming gods (with a small “g”) ourselves.
In this life, in a mortal body that knows nothing of His plan for us, we resist God. What is His plan? It is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. So everything we experience is designed to bring us further along that journey.
Through this out-of-body experience, all of this information was infused into my spirit. Since then the veil is thinner for me in some aspects. I can not only remember what God has shown and taught me in vision, but I have His revelatory voice to teach me every moment of my life�just as every mortal does�through the light of Christ and the voice of the Holy Spirit. Having both perspectives on the works of God has thinned the veil in many ways.
While I was walking through the hospital I met other mortals. Some were workers, others were doctors and nurses. I didn’t see many patients, as I seemed to be in an administrative section of the hospital. Each of these mortals’ lives was completely transparent to me, as if their very being, their every secret and truth and lie was being broadcast by themselves to the whole world. For me, it was all revealed, and all of it was visible to me. I found it oppressive because I could see the trouble they had created for themselves. I could see every mistake, as well as every good act they had done. I felt deep sadness for most of them and could hardly stand to meet another person after a while. I found that it was much more pleasant to experience wood and rocks than humans. I was intrigued by their intricate history, which each of them showed to me in the instant I touched them. I was
drawn to their positive vibe and eternal makeup.
A Cry for Justice
I found a few items in the hospital that were saddened by how they had been used by their owners. A few things had been used in crimes or for violent or immoral purposes, and their voice included a cry for redemption and justice. It was not a shrill or piercing or unpleasant sound�but it was unending, and carried the vivid details of the injustice. I knew that the object itself was not diminished or condemned, but it waited with patient expectation for the day of redemption.
I walked through a wall and into a nice office. It was more nicely furnished than the others, with beautiful pictures on the walls and ornate wooden furniture. I considered going out the door to see whose office this was, but as I walked through a desk I was stunned by what I felt. It was longing for redemption. I realized that recently a series of love letters had been written at this desk promoting an affair that ultimately would injure many people. I knew the content of every letter and the true emotion and manipulation of the writer as well as the reaction of the reader. I moved away, not wanting to remain in that stream of torrid details. I went through the couch, and it likewise testified of the same affair and unrighteous events that had occurred here, some recently. I could not find any place in that beautiful office that was not saddened or offended or crying for redemption.
Returning to My Body
I was about to leave when I again felt the call of my body. Instantly, I found myself back in the procedure room, looking at my body. In all of my later experiences of leaving my body, I rose up out of it. But for reasons I still don’t understand, I left and reentered my body from beneath during this experience.
I suddenly found myself under the table, moving rapidly up through it and into my body from beneath. This time it was more painful than any of the other times. The pain was being experienced by my body, but as I connected with it, I felt it all. I was still aware in my spirit-self�which, as I described, has enhanced sensibilities. For a moment I could feel both my spirit, as it was rocked and pounded by my body’s pain, and the pain of my body. The shock of the pain from both sources was overwhelming. Then, an instant later, I was only aware of my body.
I was back inside. I was not just waking up as if from anesthesia but was fully conscious and aware of everything. I was sick�almost as sick as a mortal can be and still be alive. I had no strength to even blink my eyes. I was overwhelmingly nauseated but too weak to vomit. My heartbeat was irregular, and I could feel sickness from all of the medications they had injected into me. I couldn’t believe this was actually my body; it felt sicker than I had ever felt it.
I felt “body burdened,” as if my spirit wanted to fly out of it again, but my body was holding it down with a tremendous weight. I struggled to breathe. I could hear the nurses and doctors talking anxiously among themselves and then to me.
I opened my eyes. My perception of the passage of time was that I had been out of my body for five or six hours. I had seen and experienced so much and had wandered the halls of the hospital with no sense of needing to hurry, poking my head through closed doors and walking through every wall I could find. Yet when my eyes finally focused upon the clock on the wall of the procedure room, only twenty minutes had expired.
It made no sense to me. I felt confused. They got me up and fed me some orange juice. I felt ill, so they told me to lie back down and rest. A doctor came and told me what had happened. He spoke of it all casually, like this happens all the time. He wanted me to come to his office for a while and rest to make sure I was going to be okay.
I felt too weak, but they enlisted my wife, Lyn, to encourage me. She rolled me in a wheelchair to his office. She did not realize what had just happened. I recognized his office as the ornate office where the love affair had been enacted, but the office furnishings were silent, no longer speaking to my spirit, which was now apparently firmly back in my body.
I told the nurse who stayed with us,“I’ve been dead.”
She shook her head and replied, “No, you just have had a hard time with the contrast, but now you are fine.” She was reassuring, but she did not understand what I was trying to say. Everyone who spoke to us tried to minimize what had just happened. They didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. In about half an hour, they told us I was fine and sent me home.
Many Different Death Experiences
A major part of this experience was that I began to understand agency and that people are having different experiences after death. This is something I had certainly never supposed.
Some people would not even admit they were dead. Other people, like myself, were just waiting for their bodies to be restored so they could reenter them. These people were having experiences of many different types. Some were given the choice to return to mortality. I didn�t seem to have a choice, as I was just called back.
Some of the dead were met by angels of light, who accompanied them away from the hospital in a column of light. At the time, especially after I had tried several times to reenter my body, I considered them to be the more blessed ones.
This out-of-body experience alone has given me decades of information to process and try to understand. Narrating this book is actually the first time in my life that I have tried to put all of these experiences into words. I have wondered, pondered, and prayed about them for most of my life, but this is the first time I have tried to describe them aloud. It is interesting to me to see how difficult it is, how few words there are to describe the true meaning of life and what really happens when one dies.
Back at Home
A few days after we arrived home I began to feel improved. I told Lyn about my out-of-body experience and about my visiting her in the waiting room. I told her that I had actually died. She was skeptical, though she found it inexplicable that I knew what magazine article she had been reading and that I could remember it up to the point that she had stopped reading when the speakers blared, “Code Blue, Code Blue!” I told her everything, how she had looked up and then stood up, how she was dangling the magazine from one hand�all of it. She confirmed to me that everything I said was actually true, though she could not bring herself to believe I had actually been dead for twenty minutes.
She asked for an appointment with my doctor, and we both went. She demanded to know the truth of what had happened that day. The doctor would not admit that I had died. The only thing the doctor would say was that “There were some scary moments when your heart stopped. You were not breathing, but we revived you.” He completely minimized the experience and told us not to worry about it any further. I think what he was really saying was,“Please don’t sue us.”