In the summer of 1994 Barb died and left her body – and fortunately came back. It was due to a medical condition which was corrected by surgery within that week, and she has been fine since.
Barb’s condition made her very tired, so that afternoon she laid down to take a nap. She remembered going to sleep, and then was suddenly awake, aware her breathing was getting shallower and shallower, suddenly aware she was dying. She started screaming for help in her mind, but was too weak to make a sound.
She heard me making dinner in the kitchen and the boys playing in the living room, and she kept saying ‘No Lord, it isn’t my time, not yet, how will John take care of the boys? How will John be able to care for Chris? What about all the promises of ministry you made us? You made promises!”
In the midst of her objections she started to leave her body, and the peace of the Lord came over her, and she said in response, “Oh, OK, they’ll be ok, they’ll be just fine.” as every care about us faded away. She describes it as lifting out of her body like her arms and legs were coming out of gloves and pants legs, leaving from the upper part of her shoulders and head, like a cicada leaves its shell, yet without effort. She lifted out of her body and floated at or just above the ceiling, looking down on her body.
As she viewed her lifeless body on the bed she spontaneously said, “So this is what has caused me all this trouble!?” She was so consumed with peace she saw her body with an emotional separation one feels when looking at a piece of meat for sale in a store – it meant nothing to her because she realized it wasn’t the ‘real’ her. One day we’ll all get a glorified body, one that will be one with our true selves, our spirit and soul. But that day, as she looked down on her body, it was more of a curiosity to her.
All the limits, frailties, sinfulness, and sheer mortality of the flesh stood in sharp relief to the reality of her eternal spirit and soul, the real her, being in the Spirit realm with the Lord. She held no emotional attachment to her body, it was just a place for the real her to live in for a season.
She suddenly felt herself dropping back into her body, re-entering it the same way she left, feet and toes entering at the top back of the shoulders and sliding down into her legs, her arms and shoulders sliding down into her physical arms and shoulders, and then her head slipping into her physical head, she was fully aware this whole time, and once back in her body felt herself drifting off to sleep.
She woke up around 9pm, afraid to tell me what had happened, how close she had come to leaving us. The next day she did tell me, and we moved quickly, with surgery almost immediately, and has been fine since.
Fear, or peace?
If only we could live in this world with the detachment Barb felt that day about her body; Where we are so overwhelmed with the Lord’s presence that all the cares of the world are viewed with an objectivity that comes from being consumed with the reality of Christ in us, and our eternal destiny with Him.
We disciples of the Lord Jesus live with this constant give and take between the peace in our spirits versus the ‘outside’ world which is dominated by fear. Emotional health and making wise decisions in life require us to be more aware of Christ in us and His peace, than the fear and fleshly things that surround us.
Jesus regularly told people to be at peace when the natural circumstances were screaming fear and pain. When Jairus received word his daughter had just died, Jesus told him ‘Fear not’. When He came walking on the water in the midst of a storm He said, ‘Fear not’, and several more examples.
The Lord is the same today as He was in the gospels, so He still tells us to ‘fear not’ when we are in the midst of confusing and fearful situations. Maybe you’ve come to a church service or house church gathering of the church stressed out and confused, but in the worship His peace overwhelms you – that is Him saying ‘Fear not’. We can live with questions in our minds, yet be overwhelmingly aware of His peace in our spirits, helping guide us in every decision and helping us understand world events correctly.
How do we ‘tap into’ that peace in our spirit while circumstances scream fear and destruction?
There are keys
Each time Jesus told someone to not fear though circumstances caused fear, we have instructions on how to do that within each story told. They aren’t always obvious, but clearly when He told each person to ‘fear not’, He expected them to do exactly that. In this series we will look at several situations and we’ll be able to apply what He told them to do, which will allow us to be at peace and make wise decisions.
Example #1, Jairus - Luke 8:41-56 & Mark 5: 22-43
Jairus’ daughter was at the point of death, and when he caught up with Jesus he said this: “Come and lay your hands on her that she may be saved from this illness (made whole), and she shall live.”
As Jesus headed towards His home a woman with a hemorrhaging condition yet with strong faith, touched the hem of His clothes and was healed. As Jesus told her it was her faith that made her whole and to be at peace, word came to Jairus that his daughter had indeed died.
“When Jesus heard (literally, ‘overheard’) it He said to him, “Be not afraid, only believe!” Mark 5:36
The word ‘afraid’ here is ‘phobeo’, which means ‘to put to flight’ – in other words Jairus, “Don’t let your faith be put to flight by news of your daughter’s death, just believe!”
The turning point for each of us
What is he to believe? Go back to the original faith and reason he asked Jesus to come: “Come and lay your hands on her that she may be whole, and she will live.” Jesus is telling him to go back to his original faith, choosing to let that faith overwhelm the circumstances, and finding peace in that original faith.
You see, once Jairus’ faith was set on Jesus coming and laying hands on her that she would live, it really didn’t matter if the girl continued to lay at the point of death or even die. We see the same faith in Jesus concerning His friend Lazarus.
In John 11 when He was told Lazarus was sick, His response was that the sickness would not end in death, but the glory of God. Once He knew the end result would not be Lazarus’ death, it didn’t matter if he died because He already knew the end result would be life. The same with Jairus. Once he knew Jesus would lay hands on her and she would live, it didn’t matter if she got better, worse, or even died.
To help Jairus focus on his original faith, the text says of Jesus: “And He allowed no one to follow Him from that point on, except Peter, James, and John.” It also says when He arrived at the house and faced the mourners who laughed when He said she was just sleeping – temporary condition – “He put them all out.”
The Greek word ‘kata-gelao’ is translated ‘laughed Him to scorn’. ‘Kata’ means down or bad, ‘gelao’ is laugh, meaning a loud and condescending laugh against Jesus, as if He didn’t know what He was talking about. The phrase ‘He put them all out’, implies force, that He literally shoved them all out the door.
You see, He didn’t allow the crowds to follow Him nor did He allow the unbelieving mourners around Jairus or the situation because it was important Jairus stuck to his original belief – lay hands on her and she will live.
Sometimes it isn’t that we don’t have faith, it is that we have surrounded ourselves with people of doubt and unbelief.
How can you become (almost) as detached to the natural world as Barb was that day she died? When circumstances scream fear, you must go back to the last known thing the Lord said to you. Go back to your original faith, no matter if that was 10 minutes or 10 years ago. Go back to the original thing you believed, limit the unbelief around you, and you will be able to ‘fear not, just believe’.
More next week…blessings,