Dying To Live
Oliver John Calvert died from heat stroke and was thrust into the presence of God. As he trembled in fear, judgment took place. Precious yet sobering it is for us to have the opportunity to read the words John shares regarding a form of judgment he experienced in the presence of God.
If you would like to watch or listen to this eye-opening testimony, click on the follow link: Oliver John's Video Testimony
The testimony I'm going to share here is one that some will find hard to believe. I realize that. However, I've never felt God wanted me to try to convince anyone that what happened to me the fateful day I stood before God and experienced what happened. God's will for me is to simply share it and trust Him to speak to those He wills to speak to. So, before reading further, I encourage you to say a prayer and ask God to reveal to you what He wants to reveal in what I share and trust Him to do that.
It was 120 degrees that day in the summer of 1993. The heat wave that had descended upon Auburn, Pennsylvania was the hottest in a hundred years. I may have been unwise for painting in that searing heat, but a preacher had made a deal with me, "Paint my mother-in-law's house and I'll give you a Chrysler LeBaron." I was greatly in need of a car, so we struck the deal.
While I was painting the house, I developed a bad headache. I climbed down the ladder and took a Tylenol for it. Then, I climbed back up the ladder and went back to painting. The Tylenol didn't help much, and I decided to paint through the pain. For some reason, I was not aware that my problem was dehydration. Heat-stroke had begun.
The lady whose house I was painting would normally have been at the house at the time but she and her teenage grandson were driving to the next town to pick up a medical prescription, so I was alone.
I became hungry and decided to make myself some spaghetti for lunch. Unable to concentrate on the recipe for spaghetti because the synapses in my brain were firing randomly, I sliced up pickles for the sauce.
I carried the steaming bowl of pickle-spaghetti into the living room, along with a tall iced-coke that I desperately needed in order to get some much-needed liquid into my body, but because the effects of the heat-stroke had already taken hold, I never was able to drink. I was quickly sliding down a steep slope of severe shock without even realizing it.
I collapsed in front of the window air-conditioner. My breathing began to slow. My heart began to skip, as I was told later, was typical of advanced heat stroke, and my body began to cool, as the world fell away.
Thirty miles away, the grandson pulled over on the shoulder of the highway and stopped the car. "What are you doing?" his grandmother asked.
"I don't know," he answered. "Somebody just tapped me on the shoulder. There's something bad wrong at the house! We gotta go back, right now!"
But they were too late. Twenty-one people had already died that day in the summer of 1993 in Pennsylvania, during that heat-wave. Now, number twenty-two had crossed over into eternity to join them.
"Oh, my God!" the boy began to pray, "Oh, my God!"
Of course, I heard all this much later from them: "You had no pulse. You weren't breathing. Your body was cold. You were dead, as far as I was concerned. You had obviously been gone for quite some time."
They called the paramedics, who were able to jump-start me. They did CPR on me until they could get me to ICU. In the ICU they put me on a respirator and forced IV's into my arms. They packed hot blankets on my cold body for three days to bring up my body core temperature.
I don't have any recollection of being in the hospital, but I do vividly remember being someplace else -- far, far away.
I woke up in a lightening bright place. Instantly, I had total awareness. I knew who was in front of me and I dared not look up. I was on my face before the throne of God. I knew I was in a lot of trouble. I was terrified. I was shaking. I could see myself as God sees me. When I had His perspective on me - it was awful. I could see in myself all the guilt I had carried; the pride; the vanity - the emptiness - the desperate loneliness - the anger - the selfishness and sin -- the nothingness that my life had become.
And, I knew that life was over for me now. I was before God, being judged and I was terrified because I knew what was about to happen to me. I had been told when I was young that we will all one day be judged by God, then either go to heaven or hell. I knew I wasn't going to heaven because of how I had lived life, so that meant I was headed for hell.
It's very difficult to describe as we equate time here on earth, but for about two-thirds of the time I was in God's presence, I'm guessing, I was on my face and experiencing from God's perspective, what I had done to others on earth. Whether fear, intimidation, neglect, sarcasm, harsh criticism, course jokes or ridicule, I saw each of their faces and I felt what I had put them through at that moment. I was made to feel the pain I had caused them, and it's longer-term effects. It was continuous, and it seemed at the time as though it went on forever, until I was a sobbing mess.
I began begging for this to stop. I couldn't put the blame anywhere. I couldn't shift it to somebody else. There was nobody else there to shift it to. It was all on my shoulders; I knew I was responsible and that whatever judgment I got would be fair. I fully anticipated hell for me.
I even agreed with God that His verdict of hell would be fair for all my wrongdoing. Ironically - I had finally come to agreement with God about something.
I begged for Him to stop, and I said, "Please stop! I can't take anymore! I did it. I understand - and I'm sorry. I'm really and truly sorry!"
At that point it did stop. The remorse and the anguish kind of drifted away, and I became somewhat calm in my spirit.
Then, I heard a voice say to me, "You have not fulfilled your purpose here."
I asked, "What was my purpose?" It was like I didn't even think about it before it came out of me, but I was curious. I didn't have a clue and I did want to know.
The voice said to me, "The same as every man. You were put on the earth to take care of it. You are not just to strip the Earth; you're not to pollute it. You're not to destroy your home."
I was being indicted. While I had lived, I had been a litterer. I hadn't cared about nature or the environment at all.
"Secondly," He said, "You are here for the animals. They look up to you. You're the one with a spirit. You're the one who has reason, intelligence, and strength to change things; to protect them and do for them. They don't have those abilities, and yet you destroy species after species."
I knew I was partly responsible. I had hunted for sport I had no concern for animals. I never showed any compassion. I never had any compassion for animals, or anyone, really.
"Thirdly, He said, "You're on earth for each other. And you - I sent you to be part of the solution, but you've just been part of the problem."
I couldn't do anything with that. It was on my shoulders, and I was just grieving over it, but this too began to fade away.
I WAS STILL ON MY FACE, NOT OUT OF FEAR NOW, BUT OUT OF PURE REVERENCE
He began to try to teach me and, in overwhelming waves, the images came to me. I couldn't grasp much. All I remember for sure from that part is that the universe follows a pattern; an atom looks exactly like a solar system, which looks like a galaxy, which looks like a system of galaxies, and so on. And, in the way that some department stores have a whole wall of television sets playing at once, God has 6.2 billion of them playing at once and He's very interested in every story line. Beyond that, it was very confusing, like Einstein trying to teach physics to a two year-old. There's nothing wrong with the teacher or the curriculum -- it's the two year-old that needs help.
While all this was going on, I still wouldn't look up. I couldn't look up. I couldn't face Him. I was still on my face, not out of fear now, but out of pure reverence.
There was a pause. I was so broken and ashamed - genuinely sorry. Then, like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, I began to feel God's love shining down on me. My tears were dried. My heart was lifted. He loved me and I knew it.
Then, out of my peripheral vision, I could see the floor to my right opening up and what looked to me like a video presentation from the day I was born.
From a ceiling perspective, I was looking down on the day I was born. It was November 7, 1959, in Wharton, Texas. I was looking down on an operating room. The doctor and nurse had on surgical masks and plastic gloves.
The doctor was looking down at my mother, holding her face in his blood-covered hands. He had a desperate look of fear in his eyes as he said, "You have to tell me what to do now. I can't save both of you. You've hemorrhaged so much! And I don't have any AB negative blood. I can't save you and the baby. If I abort the baby, I still don't know if I can stop the bleeding in time. If I take the baby caesarean, you're going to bleed to death. Tell me what to do.'
My mother's response was immediate. To her, there was no choice to be made, and as only a loving mother can do - though she was only in her twenties, she whispered through her pain, "I've lived my life - don't kill my baby!"
Immediately the doctor went out into the hallway and told my father the same thing.
My father said, "I don't know that baby, but I'm in love with that woman. Don't kill my wife!"
The doctor, who now had two conflicting directives from two parents, backed into the operating room with his hands in the air. Behind his mask, I could see his lips moving and I was given to know that in his terror - certain now that someone was about to die at his hand - he was very sincerely reaching out to God in prayer.
When he got back into the operating room, he saw, next to my mother on the operating table, a little old man, lying on a gurney.
The doctor spun angrily around on the nurse. "How could you bring him in here?! This is a sterile environment!" (Of course, he was only yelling because he was scared.)
The nurse, now scared too, answered, "Doctor, didn't you send him in here?"
At that, the little old man raised his head and said, 'Hurry, son -- there's not much time.'
The doctor started yelling, "Time? Time?! They don't have any time! They're out of time!"
Somehow knowing that the state trooper who was rushing from Houston with AB- blood would never make it in time, the little old man stared up at the doctor and replied calmly, "I'm AB-. Give her a direct transfusion."
This scene began to fade away and the floor became solid again as God said to me, "I was there that day. I've been stepping in for you all your life to save you from destruction. Who do you think tapped that young boy on the shoulder to cause him to turn around and go back to find you in your heat stroke? That was Me."
And, in my mind, flashed pictures like snapshots: Me - at six weeks old, with double pneumonia. Me - as a child, falling ten feet onto my face and breaking my nose instead of my neck. Me - overdosing on twelve hits of acid and surviving. Me - waking up in the curve of an overpass, wondering who turned the wheel of my car in my sleep. Me - wondering what to do just before the drunk with a knife at my throat decided not to kill me. The car crash - the airplane accident - and on, and on, incident after incident.
Then, He said, "But I'm not going to do that for you anymore. This is it for you. You're either going to get it, or you're not going to get it, but this is absolutely your very last chance to understand your purpose."
Well - He got my total attention with that statement, because now He's talking about a 'last chance.' I clung onto the word 'chance' like a drowning man would cling to a life preserver. 'Chance?' Another 'chance?!'
I WAS NOW TOTALLY FOCUSED ON WHAT HE HAD TO SAY TO ME - WHAT HE WANTED ME TO DO BACK ON EARTH.
I listened to His will; His every word to me and He began, again, to teach me.
He said, "When you were born, you came out screaming, until they put you to your mother, then you were satisfied. That's the first appetite I gave you; the need for food to nourish your body."
Then he showed me myself as a toddler. I saw different things I had done. He asked me what it all meant. I told Him, "I wanted emotional closeness before I could even speak. I wanted to be picked up and held. I wanted love."
God said, "That's the second appetite I gave you; an emotional appetite."
Then, He began showing me myself as an older child. I saw myself asking, "Why, daddy, why? I throw the ball up; why does it come back down. The ball floats in the bathtub, but cornbread sinks in a glass of milk. Why? Why? Why?"
God said, "That's the third appetite I gave you; an intellectual hunger. Your brain becomes inquisitive, and it thirsts for knowledge and understanding."
Then, He said, "The fourth appetite I gave you is a spiritual appetite, and you've been ignoring this all your life. In fact, this is the reason why you overdo it on the other three. You're a workaholic, trying to feed that intellectual hunger. You're a bed-hopper, trying to feed that emotional hunger. You overdo it on cigarettes, booze, and drugs, stuffing everything imaginable into your mouth to try to find something to feed yet suppress, yet feed your spiritual hunger. Your cigarette habit is just a hand to mouth feeding mechanism. You've been starving spiritually, John. This is why you overdo it in the other areas. This is why you are so out of balance - why nothing works in your life."
After He said that, I looked at myself in a whole different light, and said, in shocked amazement, "You know, God . . .You're right!"
Well duhhhh!, like I was trying to tell HIM something He didn't already know?! But He didn't seem to mind that. He knew I was dumb as a box of rocks. This was my first inkling of what it meant to be a man. The very beginnings of what to build on.
He showed me other things. Then, He allowed me to look up. He wiped my tears away. I could tell ,He accepted me. I could tell, He really loved me. And it wasn't about right and wrong anymore. It was about Him and I having relationship.
This was the instant that I changed in my heart.
God is not bound by time. We are bound by time. But if you want to fast and pray to get deeper and more intimate with the Spirit of God, you can get above the line to where you are not trapped by time. Your spirit can be free to commune with Him. He showed me these things. He allowed me to ask questions.
When I looked up, I saw the most enormous person, on the most enormous throne, as big as the stars, a big white throne with Him wearing a long, flowing robe. He had a face like looking into the sun, but it wasn't yellowish like the sun we have. It was a blue-white sun, I remember, and there was someone sitting next to Him that looked just like Him, only just a little smaller, but He never spoke. He was observing. He had a face just like God, the Father's face. I was allowed to ask Him questions as well, and, in retrospect, I wish I would have asked Him questions that I didn't even think about asking when I had the chance. It seemed at the time that my accountability to Him was most important, so that is what I dwelt on.
They say that after three days and nights I sat up in the ICU and pulled all lines out of my veins, the intubation out of my lungs, and disconnected myself from the heart monitor and all the machines, because God had told me that a body could not survive much longer without the spirit.
I didn't really understand that but, all of a sudden, I was back in the hospital, I don't remember this either, but found out later, it was because I was not well in my head. I was sick. Heat stroke is a literal stroke. I lost all of my childhood memories. It took me a year to learn how to walk and talk again.
But, upon waking up the first time, I pulled out everything I was hooked up to, and walked out into the emergency room and scribbled my name on a release form, they say, and walked out into the parking lot in my beautiful new hospital gown. (I thank God I have no recollection of that event!) Then a pastor I didn't know corralled me. He had been sent by a friend to pray with me.
He took me to his home. I was there six weeks before I came back to my senses. When I woke up and came to myself again, I was in a church service in a little white chapel on a hill in Auburn, Pennsylvania, surrounded by people I had never met, sitting next to this pastor I didn't know and wearing a brown suit that wasn't mine.
At that moment, I thought to myself: Hey, after all I've been through, this really isn't all that weird!
I WAS BACK ON EARTH; I WAS ALIVE; AND - I HAD ANOTHER CHANCE ... TO LIVE ... FOR GOD
I decided to go with it. I was back on earth; I was alive; and - I had another chance, 'to live' for God.
A tall, silver-haired man was looking down at me, and said, "Brother Calvert, will you bring our message this morning?"
Now, please try to visualize this. It was a major stroke I had. I couldn't lift my head. I couldn't lift my right arm. I had to drag my right leg. I couldn't speak clearly. And I kind of peered up at him as best as I could, and with terribly slurred speech, I asked, "Arrre youuu tawalkk-king toooo meeeee?"
Then, I heard a little voice in my heart, saying, "Remember."
I was thrilled with joy at that point because I did remember, and, because I could hear His voice in my heart! (And I've been able to hear that voice ever since!) And I knew that I had relationship with my Heavenly Father, and everything was going to be all right.
I pulled myself up with my good arm, my head came up, I got strength in my right arm and my leg grew strong. I stood and preached to those people the reality of Jesus Christ and the love of God.
When I finished, I sang a little song: "I don't know about tomorrow, but I know who holds the future, and I know who holds my hand."
And when I got through, I couldn't lift my head, I couldn't lift my arm, I had to drag my right leg, because it was His time to minister. It had nothing to do with me. It was just Him. It was the most beautiful experience of my life on Earth up to that point, to be used totally by God, and to have nothing to do with it, personally. He shared His message for those people. He knew what to say to each one. I was just a vessel He chose to speak through.
Shortly after that, phone calls began to come in to the pastor's home where I was staying from all different denominations, asking if I would be willing to come to their churches and minister, and God began to use me from that point on to minister what God laid on my heart to speak. I was just a vessel He now could use.
By the grace of God I'm still a vessel available for Him to use as He wills to use me, and so much has happened since. As the months and years go by, opportunity after opportunity presents itself for me to speak into other people's lives, and it always thrills me when I get a chance to share about my experience of being called before God, being judged, then being given another chance at life to make up for so many wasted years.
So, let's bring this down to you, dear one. Are you fully prepared for the moment when God will judge you? Are you ready to meet the Creator, the Judge of all people and all angels? My prayer is that you don't gamble your eternal 'fate' like I gambled with mine. My sincere hope and prayer is that you respond to the Lord knocking on your heart right now and get right with Him, if you're not. You do not have tomorrow promised to you. You don't even have the next minute promised to you. None of us have.
People need to be made fully aware that I'm a nobody; I'm zero; I'm nothing. I'm no more special to God than you or anyone else. The only difference between you and me is that God allowed me a second chance to come back to Earth to tell others that God is real, God's judgment is real, and every person will be judged by God for what they have done during their lifetime.
Taking care of this planet is important. Taking care of animals is also important. Helping others and being a blessing to them is very, very important. But, none of those things will save you from your sins on judgment day. There is only one thing that will save you from your sins and to be forgiven of them and be made in right-standing with God when you get judged; placing your trust in Jesus Christ is all that will bring forgiveness for your sins. That is the heart and soul of Christianity. That is what qualifies you to be right with God and have your spirit spared from spending eternity in hell.
Please don't gamble with eternity. Make it your number one priority in life from this moment forward to not have to tremble with fear like I did when you give an account to God for what you did during your life here on earth. All you've ever done that is offensive to God He will forgive if you'll grab hold of the One who paid the full penalty for your sins on the Cross of Calvary. He's been throwing out His spiritual lifeline now for some 2,000 years. Most refuse to grab it; they would rather drown in their pride and unbelief and other sins. How about you? Have you grabbed God's lifeline yet? Will you grab it in time if you haven't? Please be wise and reach out for it, right now, not for me, but to put a smile on His face. He longs to have relationship with you, but you have to want it. You have to want it with every fiber of your being. It's there. It's available. He's waiting for you to say 'Yes!' to Him.
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity.
(Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)