The Day That I Saw Jesus — My Near-Death Experience

Beth PraedBy Beth Praed9 Minutes

Excerpted from So You Have a Disease: Devotions and Stories to Restore Hope by Beth Praed

My near-death experience occurred when I was nine years old. A few days after my May birthday party, I became very ill with an extremely high fever. I was placed in the hospital, but the experts couldn’t figure out what was going on. For over a week, I drifted in and out of consciousness. The hospital told my parents that I might die. Because religion was still allowed in the school in those days, my classmates were told to pray for me.

During a lucid moment, I said a prayer to God. I told Him, I’m too sick. I’m ready to die now. And I lost consciousness again.

Then, I had an extremely bad pain in my chest. If it had lasted longer, I would have screamed. But then it was gone, and I felt wonderful. I was surrounded by a golden light, and I realized how very easy it was to breathe.

After basking in the glow, my room began to fade into view. I was still lying in my bed. But in the upper right corner of the ceiling, a bright light appeared. It was very small, but began to grow larger and larger. As the light got closer, I could see that it was a man walking toward me.

Finally, after what seemed a long time, he arrived. He was wearing a brown robe and was floating in the air. He had brown hair, a beard, and the most incredible eyes that I had ever seen. He smiled at me, and I smiled back. Then he spoke to me, although we didn’t speak with our voices. We spoke with our minds, and that seemed absolutely normal.

The man said, “Are you ready to die yet?”

Immediately, I said, “Oh no, don’t you know? I’m still a little girl. I haven’t even lived yet.” I then looked away for a minute and thought to myself, That’s strange. You said that you were ready to die.

I looked back at him, and he smiled again. He then said the most incredible thing and something that I would never forget. He said, “What have you done with your life?”

And then there is a part that I can’t remember. I’ve thought a great deal about this. In my opinion, I think the man showed me some things that I could do for Him if I went back. And then, I think that I was given the choice of whether or not I wanted to go back.

(A small aside—I don’t think that these things happened to me because I was special. I think of it as being like a grand ceremony when the millionth person crosses the bridge. When this happens, there is a giant celebration with balloons and fireworks. The millionth person gets to meet the head honcho and then gets a prize of some sort. In my case, I was the millionth person over the bridge. Jesus was the celebrity and the prize was the choice of whether to live or die.)

The next thing that I knew, the man was halfway gone. I was watching as the light got smaller and smaller. Then, after being unconscious for an undetermined amount of time, I was very much awake. I was standing in the middle of my bed, and the light in my bathroom seemed so very bright. I immediately reached over, picked up the phone, and dialed my mother.

She was shocked to hear my voice. “Beth, are you okay?”

I was very excited. “Mom, a man has been to see me and he asked me if I was ready to die.”

Of course, my mother panicked to hear about an intruder and called the hospital.

Suddenly a flood of nurses rushed into the room. They flipped on the lights and began looking around frantically. They wanted to know what this man looked like. I told them, and their eyes got big. Then they wanted to know what he had said. I told them that he had asked if I was ready to die. I then told them his second question: “What have you done with your life?”

As a child, I didn’t understand what was happening, but all of the nurses immediately froze in their movements while their eyes began to dart back and forth at each other in a knowing way.

The nurses then did additional blood work and took me for yet another X-ray. The next morning, a new flood of people began to arrive. This time, a few priests, ministers, and a pair of nuns came to talk to me. They were all armed with notepads, and they wanted to hear about the man in the brown robe.

After a few days, I was allowed to go home. The hospital had found that I had a very severe case of pneumonia.

I was still an invalid, and it took me another three months to fully recover. It was summer and each day, my parents would place me in a hammock under a tree. I think that they thought the fresh air would do me some good. One interesting fact: before my near-death experience, I had been very afraid of the dark. As soon as I got home, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I would go upstairs in the darkness. I didn’t even need a nightlight. I wasn’t afraid of insects either.

About six months later, I went to talk to my mother about my experience. “You know, Mom, I think that I know who the man in the brown robe was,” I said.

“Who?” my mom asked in surprise.

“It was Jesus,” I said.

“I think so too,” she replied.

When I tell the story about my near-death experience, people ask questions about my background. “Did you go to church a lot?” “Did your parents teach you a great deal about the Bible?” Actually, I had a pretty normal childhood. We went to church most Sundays. But really all that I knew spiritually was that Jesus was born on Christmas (when I got all those presents) and died on Easter. I also knew Noah had a boat with lots of animals and that Adam and Eve were two naked people who loved each other. But I didn’t really know much more than those facts, and I wasn’t bright enough to have made up a story like this one.

Now at age fifty-nine, my experience still affects me. I remind myself daily, “What have you done with your life today?” All of my actions, both large and small, are based on my answer to this question.

For everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this (John 11:26)?

Order your copy of So You Have a Disease: Devotions and Stories to Restore Hope by Beth Praed