Faith

Coming out of death’s door: I wasn’t supposed to be alive

by Gabriel Ong // March 6, 2018, 3:03 pm

Once dead

I was actually about to die.

When I first fell ill, I didn’t think too much of it. I’d never been the healthiest kid around, so falling sick was not uncommon. My family wasn’t well-to-do, and since my sisters and I were pretty much left alone most of the time, we usually put off visiting the doctor unless it was absolutely crucial.

That morning, however, I couldn’t get up. This particular illness hadn’t gone away – on the contrary, it seemed to have gotten progressively worse overnight. I remember waking when it was still quiet and dark, feeling as if all the strength had left my bones.

It was worrying, being scarcely able to lift my head or speak much.

At first, my sisters were calm. It had to be a really bad flu, they reasoned. But I still remember overhearing my older sister reasoning in the next room, “Maybe we should call him.”

I was lucid enough to infer that “him” probably meant our family friend. While he wasn’t a doctor, as a teacher he always seemed to know what to do — and he was like family. That was the last memory I had before I fell asleep again.

I didn’t dream that night. My body must have been far too tired for dreams.

But within me I felt a strange lightness. I felt so light, I was almost floating off the bed! Confused, I reached for the bedside table, only for my fingers to grasp through air. Air!

This must be an out-of-body experience. The sharpness of that thought surprised me, as I’d been living in a mental haze for what seemed like a long time. I felt like I was in a different dimension altogether. Like I was underwater.

But I knew there were people in my room, trying to talk to me. Whenever they touched me I could see the ripples pulsate across my skin. Someone squeezed my hand desperately. A blanket was placed over my body, although I could no longer tell if it was hot or cold.

Had they found help for me? God, what was going on? 

All forces around me were now dancing in waves beyond the room. The sound of people’s voices travelled slowly — but from far away. I heard my sisters’ cries, and my heart sank. Even through my closed eyes I could sense the door to my room being shut, cutting off what was left of the dim light.

Then it all went silent.

Lazarus, come out.

My eyes shot open at the sound to unbearable light. I was squinting against the gleam of the man at the door.

Where was I?

The bed I once lay on was now a cold stone bench. I sat up and discovered I was wrapped from top to toe in linen bandages – grave clothes! And it all became very clear to me in that moment: My heart had stopped beating, I had died, and I was now in the family tomb!

I didn’t even take a minute to think about how this was even possible. With new found strength in my body, I stood up and walked out, emerging to a small sea of friends and family.

What a sight it was to behold — and in full colour! Most stood agape at me – mouths open, eyes transfixed – but it was my sisters who immediately rushed to my side. As they crashed into me, enveloping me in their tight embrace, I realised I no longer felt weightless — but alive!

He had come for me. There he was, Jesus, my dear friend, standing right in front of me, his smiling face still streaked with tears. Only now was I slowly beginning to realise what had happened. I began to cry.

Unbind his grave clothes, and let him go.


This is an adapted account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus, taken from John 11:1-44.

About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.