Most operations turn out to be straightforward. But occasionally unexpected things happen. This was Ann Parnell’s experience – but Jesus was there, giving her the help that she needed at exactly the right time. This is her story.
‘We’ll be praying for you’ friends assured me when I told them that I was going in for a routine gall bladder operation. I appreciated their concern, but had not given a lot of thought to what I would be going through – I was now fifty, had been a Christian since the age of seven, and had no fear of hospitals.
Everything went according to plan until I started to come round from the operation. I had been taken back to my room with tubes and a drip attached to me, and all I wanted was to be left alone and allowed to sleep. The nursing staff however had other plans! I remember being very annoyed whenever they came to check the drip, or give me the next of many injections, or to just check that I was generally OK.
It seemed that between visits from the staff, my spirit seemed to leave my body, only to return when someone spoke or touched me, causing me to feel very agitated. I also felt completely frustrated as I found that I was unable to communicate with the staff. The problem was that although I could hear what they were saying to me, or about me, I could not answer back. Fortunately they understood the situation, and they said ‘We know you can’t answer us, but we will tell you what we are doing’. They would talk to me and then go away. This continued for the whole day. The peace that followed was, I am sure, ‘the peace that passes all understanding’ that the Bible mentions in Philippians 4:7.
I felt wonderful, and then, after drifting into a sleep, my spirit then left my body and started floating down this brightly-lit tunnel. It was such a wonderful feeling of happiness, joy and peace, all mingled together. It seemed as though I had been travelling for ages, when suddenly the light started to get brighter and larger. Then just as I reached the end, a figure appeared and came towards me. The figure was Jesus. It’s difficult to describe how I felt at that moment. I went out to touch Him, but He opened His arms to stop me. He had a lovely face, a big smile and very clear blue eyes that shone with such love and care – I think this picture of Him will stay with me forever. He was dressed in a robe of His time. I just stared at Him, and then He said ‘Not this time, Ann, I have more work for you to do – you must go back.’ At this point, my husband and father (who died in the 1980’s) came towards me. They were easily recognisable, and they guided me through the tunnel, our cloaks billowing behind us. Theirs was grey, and mine was white.
As I came out of the tunnel I rested over the top of the door, and looked down over my body. I shot back into my body, through my head. My body bounced up as though I had been given an electric shock. On waking I felt fine, very peaceful and not at all disturbed.
I made a full and normal recovery following this experience. The nurses were very surprised to see me looking so well the next time they entered my room. I could now communicate with them normally again. They admitted how worried they had been about me, saying that they thought they had lost me at one point. The cleaner summed up the whole situation when she came to clean my room the next day. I spotted her as she popped her head round the door. ‘Come in’, I said in welcome. She stood in the doorway, looking shocked and said, ‘I expected to see you laid out – you were dying yesterday!’ My next visitor was my surgeon. He too was amazed at my recovery. ‘You were not well yesterday’ he admitted. ‘I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the relief I feel that you are back with us – I am delighted.’
After I had left hospital and had been recovering at home, I went for my follow-up visit. The surgeon asked if I could remember what had happened to me after my operation. I told him that I did remember and explained it all to him. He believed me, and said that something very strange definitely happened to me. There are some people, of course, who believe that it could have been the effects of the anaesthetic, but it is my belief as a Christian that what happened was real. It has made my faith even stronger. This has helped me enormously with the work that Jesus had planned for me a year later.
For nine years I have been director of the Holy Trinity Voluntary Service Scheme, caring for the elderly in the parish, including the dying and their carers. I am now retired, but continue my services, working as a Chaplain. I believe God gave me this experience to enable me to sit with the dying, to help them overcome their fears and to come to terms with their own death and, hopefully, give them peace at the end. Through this experience I have understood that the person who dies sees no death. We pass from this world to the next in an instant, like walking from one room into another.
The peace has continued, with no fear of dying, together with a belief that people are more important that wealth and possessions. Jesus said ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me’, John 14:6. To know that we have Jesus in our lives is the most precious thing that we can have.
The true story of Ann Parnell included, with kind permission, in the free e-book BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER which includes 27 similar true stories, and may be freely read and downloaded from this web site.