Would a Near-Death Experience Change Your Attitude at Work?Blog / Produced by The High Calling
My wife and I recently started a small group; you know, one of those comfy in-home meetings where a few couples from church get together for some bible study, finger foods, and conversation about faith.
As churchy-cliche and conventional as that sounds, it was in truth quite refreshing as our little group became increasingly comfortable sharing the questions and doubts and acceptance of the mystery of God’s work in our lives.
We had planned to meet for three months. Towards the end of the final meeting, after each of us had probably shared far more intimate personal details than we had ever planned to, one gentleman I’ll call Tom, a recently retired executive from an aerospace company, stunned us with a story of his life-after-death experience.
I had heard about such things, but never met anyone who had actually experienced it personally.
I forget even what prompted his story, other than the collective longing we were all expressing for a closer connection to God’s purpose in our everyday lives. The room got quiet as Tom began to describe the day he was literally pronounced dead while being flown in a helicopter to the city hospital, due to a severe illness that had caused some internal organ failures. In a quiet, matter of fact tone, he went on to talk about the sensation of leaving his body, moving towards a white light, the feelings of indescribable peace and love, recognizing loved ones from the past (“not as bodies, but as streams of light”), the whole nine yards.
Tom was not being dramatic, nor was he trying to gain attention. This very technical, factual man was being vulnerable in a way that you got the feeling didn't happen too often.
Then, he said, he was somehow given a choice to return. And he did, back into the searing pain of his body. Tom paused, unsure of what to say next, while the rest of us felt chills washing over our limbs as the fire crackled, hardly able to believe what we were hearing.
You would think this type of intense spiritual life-after-death experience would have a profound impact on one’s perspective of the routine ups and downs of life – a renewed sense of purpose, gratefulness, a bigger, better perspective on dealing with all the stress and harshness of our lives. Well, this man was no different - at first.
Once Tom had recovered from his severe illness, he vowed to live differently, not to get caught up in the things that suddenly seemed so trivial, to appreciate life more fully, to be more loving and giving and ever-aware of God’s greater purpose.
“So what was it like when you went back to work?” I asked, thinking about the major attitude adjustment I had coming upon entering my office the next morning.
“Well,” he said, still gazing into the flames of the fireplace, “I was able to hold on to that positive and peaceful point of view for about six months.” He turned his look back to the faces of the group. “But then, unfortunately, I got sucked right back into the grind.”
We didn’t quite know what to say after that. It was a bit disappointing and anti-climactic, to say the least. He knew it, too.
“Look,” he said, trying to explain himself. “The intensity of the job just forces you back into it. You can’t possibly be a leader or manager and not pay attention to the details of the job you are doing.”
Maybe he is hyper-responsible, or a perfectionist. Maybe his job was just really difficult. Maybe he was getting massive pressure from his boss.
But still, after an after-life experience?
Here’s someone who has actually experienced the bliss of God’s heavenly light, and still he has trouble maintaining a spiritual perspective at work.
I'd like to give some tips right now for staying spiritually connected on the job, but there's a part of me thinking, if he can't do it, how are the rest of us supposed to hold stressful, responsible jobs and remain spiritually grounded?
Post by J.B. Wood. Image by Strollerdos. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.