I read this story today by Mike Olsen and I LOVED it!! I have never heard of anyone doing what this man did during his near death experience. It will warm your heart. 💕
“Mike, we found a match,” my doctor said over the phone. “You’re getting a new set of lungs. I’ll see you in surgery early tomorrow morning.”
I stared at my wife, Patti, in shock. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. This was the call we’d been praying for. I hung up the phone, and Patti swept me into a hug.
Five years before, I’d been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a disease that causes scar tissue to form in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. There is no cure and, in some cases, like mine, no known cause. Before my diagnosis, I thought I was healthy. I was 54 years old, the pastor of our church in Louisville, Kentucky. I had never smoked a day in my life. I was even a singer who’d performed on-stage. After my diagnosis, my condition had continued to deteriorate rapidly until I needed to be on an oxygen tank 24/7. I’d been on the transplant list for three years.
That night we packed a bag and hurried to the car, my oxygen tank in tow. During the drive to the hospital, I was lost in thought. Receiving a new pair of lungs was a huge blessing, but it was a lot for me to take in. Even though my lungs were no longer healthy, it was hard to reconcile losing the organs I’d used to take my first breath, sing my first song. They were about to be replaced by the lungs of a total stranger, an anonymous donor, someone whose death meant that my life would be saved. I felt guilty that I got to keep on living. It felt as if I were taking something from a stranger that didn’t belong to me.
I knew one potential risk of surgery was that my body could reject the new lungs. I couldn’t help but wonder—if my soul couldn’t come to terms with the transplant, what chance did my body have? Though I tried to push the question from my mind, it needled me like a thorn.
At the hospital, we settled in and waited for the operation, which was scheduled for 6 A.M. In the morning, the nurses prepped me for surgery. I kissed Patti and held her close. “Everything is going to be okay,” she said. Still, as the nurses got me ready, I remained uneasy. When they wheeled me into the operating room and put the anesthesia mask over my face, I sank into a timeless darkness.
Then I was conscious. I couldn’t feel anything, but I could see. What’s going on? I thought. I was in the operating room, but I wasn’t on the operating table. I was floating above it. From my vantage point overhead, I saw my body on the table. The surgeons were hunched over my body, conferring with one another, their voices strained. Something must have gone very wrong.
I kept rising upward. The scene below me disappeared, and I came to a space of swirling lights. Reds, to blues, greens, yellows, all spinning together in a mesmerizing display. The lights were comforting, as if beckoning me to follow. As I moved along, I heard voices. Singing voices. The melody was enchanting, but I couldn’t make out the words. That is, until a chorus of voices announced over the singing: “Mike’s coming home!”
“No,” I heard a commanding voice say. “He is just here for a visit.”
In a sudden burst of energy, I was transported to a place of blinding white light. It surrounded me and stretched on endlessly. I felt only pure peace and joy. I’d never experienced such bliss before. I was in heaven but, as that divine voice had said, only there for a visit. I knew what I needed to do.
I called out into the light—not with my voice but with my soul, “I want to thank my organ donor.”
A presence materialized behind my left shoulder. I turned and saw two figures approaching. I could see only the outlines of their forms, shimmering and iridescent. I recognized one as Jesus, and the other alongside him as my anonymous donor.
“Thank you,” I communicated. With every bit of my essence, I exuded pure gratitude. “Thank you.”
I sensed that the donor accepted my gratitude with humility. Then Jesus put his hand on my shoulder.
“These are your lungs now,” he said.
“Yes,” I agreed.
With that, I fell backward, the space of light turning into a speck before disappearing entirely. I was back in my body on the operating table at the hospital for a moment, then everything went black.
I’d later learn that I was in a coma for 10 days. During the transplant, the first lung went in fine. After the second lung was put it, the surgeon released a clamp too early. I’d bled out and needed to be resuscitated. Only through the staff’s best efforts had I been brought back. I was hooked up to a machine that breathed for me until I regained consciousness. Despite everything that had happened, the transplant was successful. I had my new lungs.
Today I continue working in ministry, while advocating for funding studies about IPF. I can even sing again. And I do it all using the lungs God gave me.
Many people describe near death experiences – this is the first one I’ve read that had a husband and wife who died together, but one of them came back. Can you imagine what that must be like?
Jeff Olsen: The accident happened while we were driving back to our home in Bountiful, Utah, from a visit to relatives in the southern part of the state. My wife, Tamara, was asleep beside me. Our seven-year-old son, Spencer, was in the back seat, playing with his toys. Our toddler, Griffin, slept in his car seat. The road stretched out ahead, and my eyes grew heavy. It felt as if I’d blinked for just a second.
That was all it took.
I lost control. The car rolled, windows exploding, gravel flying, as we spun over and over until I lost consciousness. I woke only for a second after we stopped. I felt horrible pain and heard Spencer crying in the backseat. Everything went black again. I was terrified. Where is my family? Are they safe?
Then, suddenly, I was calm. The pain was gone. I looked around. I was floating above our car accident. Before I could react, I felt a presence near me. It was Tamara. We were encircled in a bubble of light that was emanating complete peace. I knew then she was gone, but it was as if my grief were suspended. All I could feel was serenity. I wondered if we were on our way to heaven.
Tamara looked at me, her face serious. “Jeff, you cannot be here,” she said. “You have to go back.” How could I? She was here. Then I remembered Spencer’s cries. He was still alive. He needed me. I knew I had to make a choice. I pulled Tamara close to me. “Goodbye,” I said. I let go. Then I felt myself drifting away from Tamara and the comforting light.
Suddenly, I was in a hospital. I was not yet back in my body—I was still weightless, without pain. I moved freely through the halls, observing the people around me. Somehow, I was able to see their whole lives as I looked at them. Their stories, their fears, their experiences. I felt no judgment toward any of them. I was filled with the most incredible love and oneness with each of them.
I finally reached a room and stopped. The patient was in terrible shape, and doctors were rushing around him. Wait, I thought. Is that me? I recognized my own face now. I was horrified. I couldn’t go back to that! Then I remembered what Tamara had said. I thought of Spencer. I couldn’t leave him alone.
I let go and chose to move toward the body. The heaviness was the first thing I noticed, then came the horrific pain. But the worst part was the guilt. It hit me like a tidal wave. Tamara and Griffin were gone. Even as I sensed the doctors over me, working furiously to save my life, the only thing I could think was: This was my fault.
Dr. Jeff O’Driscoll was finishing his rounds at the hospital when Rachel, an ER nurse, grabbed his arm. “Come see this,” she said. “His wife is…here.”
Dr. O’Driscoll: Rachel and I stood in the doorway. The room was loud. A team of doctors worked to stabilize the patient. As I watched, the sounds around me faded out. I sensed a divine presence in the room. And then I noticed a light. In it was the form of a woman, floating above the patient’s bed. She had flowing, curly blonde hair and was dressed in various shades of white. Her form was almost transparent, and the look on her face was serene. She looked vibrant, otherworldly—I knew innately that this was the man’s wife. The divine presence in the room was allowing me to view her eternal soul.
She smiled at me, as if she’d known me forever. I sensed her immense gratitude toward the doctors who were working to save her husband. She looked directly at me and back at her husband, then back at me. Her eyes were intent.
Then everything slowly returned to normal. I could hear the doctors speaking, and I could hear Rachel again. “Did you see her too?” she asked. I looked again. The patient’s wife was gone. The trauma surgeon took the man to surgery.
Olsen: After a few months and 18 surgeries, I finally moved to the rehab wing. One night, just days before my release, I fell into a deep sleep and had a dream that was more powerful than any I’d ever had. I was standing in a big field. The serenity I’d felt in the bubble of light on the day of the accident returned. My body was healed, and I could walk freely. I felt light and started running. I noticed a corridor appear on my left. I entered and followed it to the end. I found Griffin there, asleep in his crib. He looked perfect. Tears filled my eyes as I picked him up and held him close. I could feel his breath on my neck as I rocked him. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself, I thought.
Then I felt a divine presence behind me. It exuded pure love. It felt like the love I’d experienced for the people in the hospital the day of the accident, free of judgment. I now understood that I’d been shown a glimpse of the kind of complete love that God had for me. I felt two arms wrap around Griffin and me, enveloping us. A reassuring voice said, “There’s nothing to forgive.”
For more information, I highly recommend the book Imagine Heaven by John Burke. It really encouraged me after someone close to me unexpectedly passed away. It is full of stories like this and it examines the details of these experiences in light of what the Scriptures say. Click on the book cover below to see the description on Amazon.
Learn to be familiar with the realm of the Spirit.
Learn to be familiar with this realm that you came from.
Learn to be familiar with the supernatural
‘Cause heaven … Heaven is movin’ in.
Don’t be surprised when you have angelic encounters.
Don’t be surprised if you should see the living creatures.
Oh, learn to be familiar with the realm of the Spirit.
Oh, learn to be familiar with this realm that you came from.
Song: Heaven is Movin’ In, Messengers of Fire album by Joann McFatter, Steve Mitchell and Steve Swanson
This album is AMAZING!!! When I play it, I literally feel the “shift” in my living room. I wish this song was on YouTube – I’d give you the link so you could feel it yourself. The album was recorded live at a worship conference – wow, you can really get a taste for what the participants at that conference must have experienced. It is off the charts!
This is my favorite song from the album – it just resonates with me. The entire album is worth every penny. You can download it from JoAnn McFatter’s site here: http://joannmcfatter.com/messengers-of-fire/
Here’s the CD description: Recorded at the Deep Unto Deep worship weekend at Suncoast Worship Center, “Messengers of Fire” captures a visitation from the King. The Lord revealed His heart and His will in a fresh way. This unique CD features a totally spontaneous journey into undiscovered territory. Listen as you hear the King arriving with His heavenly procession. Hear angelic hosts entering the room with an impartation of holy fire! The whole church was caught up in a swirl of glory as He “branded” us with His fire and called us His own! This CD takes you on a journey into the Throne Room and into heavenly realms of God’s Glory! Released 2003
It’s one of those CDs that goes from one song to another without a gap or break between songs. It’s an “experience” – not just a music CD.
Here’s how the song continues – it will raise goose bumps on your arm.
(Marching music begins to build in the background)
Heaven is movin’ in, heaven is movin’ in, heaven is movin’ in
Movin’ in, movin’ in, movin’ in, NOW!
Coming down the mountain – angelic hosts,
Step by step, step by step, step by step – holy invasion!
Coming down, coming down, coming down,
Convergence – supernatural invading the natural!
Heaven is movin’ in, movin’ in, movin’ in,
Following the Captain of the Hosts,
Following divine orders:
Release, release, release!
Time is running out, time is running out, time is running out, time is running out,
time is running out, time is running out, time is running out, time is running out,
time is running out, time is running out, time is running out, time is running out,
time is running out, time is running out, time is running out.
(it flows into the next track, “Contact”)
Watchmen on the walls, what do you see?
Watchmen on the walls, what do you hear?
I hear the sound of a distant thunder; I hear the sound of a distant thunder.
Watchmen, O Watchmen,
Watchmen, O Watchmen,
Keep your eyes, keep your eyes, keep your eyes and your ears open.
Watchmen, O Watchmen,
Keep your eyes and your ears open to the call, open to the call of the Spirit.
The time is near, the time is at hand!
The Day of the Lord – The Day of the Lord is at hand!
Are you ready for the holy invasion? How exciting! The Day of the Lord is a fearful thing if you are not ready – both for “believers” and those that don’t believe. It’s time to seek the Lord and pay attention to what your heart is telling you.
I’m think I’m ready. Are you?
So what’s in the Unseen Realm? There are quite a few things. Perceiving them varies depending on the situation and your ability to discern them. Obviously, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to show us what is there and why.
Here’s what I think of when I think of the Unseen Realm.
Elements of the Unseen Realm
God the Father
The Holy Spirit
Angels – guardian angels, warrior angels, worship angels, healing angels, etc.
Demons – evil spirits of every kind (i.e. unclean spirit, lying spirit, spirit of adultery, spirit of fear, etc.)
Powers – both good and evil ones
Principalities – both good and evil ones
Anointings, Giftings, Callings, Mantles, Spheres of authority
Blessings – current blessings or generational blessings
Curses or assignments – current curses (like a word curse) or generational curses from the past
Objects like listening devices, tracking devices, a sword, a scepter, a crown, armor or clothes, etc.
Structures like portals, doors, windows, etc from this realm to another one
Locations like Sheol, the Second Heaven, the Third Heaven, the Throne Room, etc.
Beings in heaven like the four living creatures, seraphim & cherubim, 24 elders, etc.
Other miscellaneous things like the Tree of Life, Living Water, the River of Life, etc.
I’m sure I’ve left something out – please feel free to add it in the comments below. There is so much in the Unseen Realm – people are often amazed to realize how much we are unaware of.
When I was about 12 years old, I had a very unique experience. I was outside our house in the country – in the front, near the steps that led to the front door.
I suddenly realized that I was much “bigger” than my physical body. I had a mental picture of wanting to reach out to people and touch them with my hands and somehow connect with their true inner person. I realized I couldn’t do it because of the limitations of the physical body. I suddenly realized that my soul (or spirit) was meant to connect to others’ souls (or spirits) and I could not because I was “trapped” in this physical body.
I looked at my hands and could feel the life force flowing through them. But realized at the same time that I was limited in how I could touch people. I could physically touch them, but I could not really connect with them as I longed to.
I can’t really explain it – it was a pretty deep revelation for a 12 year old. For some reason, at this age, I suddenly understood deep mysteries. Adults would come to my house to talk to me – for hours. I would sit outside on the steps or on the patio with them and they would talk to me. They would ask for my insight on things. To me, it seemed natural at the time. Now as an adult, I think this is quite unusual. I remember entering a contest at school where school children were asked to solve the problems that the president was currently facing. I wrote my answers and could see how clearly they would solve these problems. So did the school because they gave me the award for the best essay in the contest. I hope the president read it – there probably were some nuggets of wisdom in there! 🙂
Anyway, from the day of that unique experience of feeling “trapped” in my physical body and knowing that my true core self was much “larger”, I began to understand that this world was not my home. I belonged somewhere else. I don’t think I had learned much about heaven yet. I had become a Christian that year so I’m not sure when I learned about heaven, but intuitively – I KNEW. I knew that THIS was not my “home”. There was somewhere else where I was meant to exist that allowed me to be ME without the limitations of the physical body I now had.
I asked my husband and he said he remembers feeling this way as a child also. Some people are afraid of what happens after death – even some Christians. This conviction that my soul (or spirit) was meant for another realm has given me a great desire to “hurry up and go home” to the place where I belong. 🙂
Have you ever felt this way? Feel free to comment below and share your experience.