I lead a Young Life club at South Salem High for 14 years. Let’s just say that my Monday nights were never dull! During this season of my life I also spent an enormous amount of time at the Original Pancake House. I probably watched high school boys eat over 100,000 pancakes. Each year there was one morning that always stood out above the rest.
I would say to the kids – “you don’t want to miss tomorrow!” What was coming? I would have a friend come and share his “experience” with our kids. Kids always left the breakfast impacted by what he shared. Here is a summarized version of what Daryl would share with us each year:
“I was in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. My life was falling apart outside of my hospital bed with a struggling marriage, a business on the brink of closing, and a pile of bills that had no way of being paid. A few days prior to going into the hospital I very sheepishly gave in and asked God into my life. I was the guy who despised believers, but, I was at the end of my rope.
As I lay in my bed and the nurse fiddled with my I.V. and tended to the variety of hoses coming from my body, I looked out onto the horizon which was getting really wavy. Something was happening . . . and out of my mouth came the words ‘I’m going . . .,’ later, I would find out that I actually said, ‘I’m going home.’
In one instant it happened. In the Stayton, Oregon hospital an alarm sounded and I lay dead in my hospital bed with no pulse and a flat line. The nurse and 7 others were frantically working on me. I was unaware of all this chaos, because I had just, in a sense, walked through a doorway. It happened in an instant.
I was someplace, and it was not a hospital. I looked around and could see an expansive rolling terrain of green, green grass. It was perfectly manicured and was extremely beautiful. The grass seemed to move back and forth with the wind, but there was no wind. The sky was as bright as the sun, a fiery golden yellow, but you could stare right at it and your eyes didn’t hurt. There was a melodic tune in the air and being a musician I know the notes being played were notes I had never heard before. Finally, there were tulips next to me. There were enormous tulip-looking flowers that looked like someone just threw cups of paint onto – except there were colors on these flowers I had never seen nor could I give a name too. I knew I was in heaven.
I was at the bottom of a small incline, and thought, if I can get to the top I might be able to get a bigger view of what was around me. I started up the hill when at the top there was a cloud of light coming toward me. The moment I saw this cloud, I knew it was Jesus.
The cloud enveloped me. As it passed over my and swallowed me up into its light I was completely known – everything I had ever done went before my eyes, the good, the bad, the embarrassing – and I was loved. All I know was that within this cloud there was some form of arms because they were wrapped around me and giving me a bear hug. It was a hug of security – communicating, “I got you!”
The cloud spoke: “I am sending you back. I need you to tell everyone that I am real, and that I am coming back soon. Daryl, you don’t have to worry so much. I am with you and will take care of you.”
I pleaded that I should stay, if I could just let my family know that I was o.k. and that heaven is awesome . . . there was a chuckle from the embrace around me. It was the same as when an older, larger person is hugging you and laughing.
I opened my eyes. I took off the mask on my face, and said to the hospital room full of attendants, “It’s o.k. I have been with Jesus, and it’s going to be o.k.”
My gown was ripped open, the attendants held the electrical shocking mallets, and one held a gigantic needle for a shot. As I sat up and regained my composure the room looked at me in equal shock. Over the next few years the people at this hospital would ask me back to speak, or contact me and want to talk about this day.”
Daryl would then tell some follow-up stories to this day. The three moments that I loved the most were after he was discharged from the hospital. Daryl had lost his restaurant, was now on disability, and had a life to repair. Here are the three moments that my high school guys always leaned in and were riveted to:
- Daryl came home one day after praying that God would help him to provide for his family. The cupboards were getting bare to say the least. He decided to go to the grocery store and see what he could get on a very minimal budget. As he got into his car he noticed grocery bags in the back seat. There were four grocery bags filled with everything they needed. There was no note, no receipt, and the car was locked.
- Daryl received his third and final note from bank. The van that the family had was to be repossessed in a week. There had not been a payment in three months. Daryl, not knowing what to do, just prayed. “Lord, you told me not to worry . . .” Later that day the mail came. In the mail was the EXACT amount owed on the van’s three payments to the penny in cash. There was a note that said, “Daryl, with love, Jesus.” The envelope had all the proper postage markings except in the circle where the originating city would be was blank.
- Finally, Daryl’s son was turning 9. He wanted fishing supplies as they lived near a river. Daryl took him to ACE Hardware and they looked around ACE and made a birthday list. They had walked to the hardware store as it was only 5 blocks from their home. They walked home to find a bag, a tackle box, and a pole on the back porch of their home. Every single item on their “wish list” was on the back porch.
One of my favorite aspects of having Daryl share with our kids was that when he was done they were so engaged. The Q and A time was as rich as the testimony of what God had done in his life.
One of the greatest accomplishments of having Daryl speak was that kids went to school that day with a sense of LIFE that they had never had before. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “All things seen are temporary and all things unseen are eternal.” There was a sense of the eternal on that day. And, it was good!
Have a great day,