Through Death’s Door—and Back! by Lyn Mann

This article originally appeared in ISSUES 3:3

I was a very fortunate person. I had a loving husband, children who were a source of joy and satisfaction, a beautiful home, a profession as a teacher who loved teaching. Most importantly, I had a relationship with God. To me, life was never a gamble because I trusted God, and I never thought in terms of cashing in my chips.”

The thought of death is grim. It’s a departure from a beloved family, friends, the comforting routine and details of life—to a place one’s only heard about.

Then, one bright and clear day, my husband, my two children and I were traveling on Route 22 in New Jersey. The driver of another car on the road fell asleep at the wheel. His car smashed into ours with a wrenching crash like death’s hammer itself. My husband and I were hurled against the sides of our car and against each other and our heads shattered the side windows. Our blood splattered on the children in the back seat as we laid unconscious. A horrible scene? Yes, but not the end of life for those who trust the one who said:

    “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

My husband and I were rushed to the emergency room of a local hospital. I was thought to be dead. Each of us was in a coma and neither of us were expected to survive. Our doctors told Paul’s dad to make funeral arrangements for the two of us. Yet, we lingered between life and death many days.

Paul and I had been together for 15 years. I was raised by my Jewish parents to seek a mate who was Jewish. When I met Paul, he told me he was Jewish, but he also began to tell me about Jesus. He took me to many meetings where I met other Jewish people who were believers in Jesus. My initial reaction was, “These people aren’t Jewish anymore!” I’ll never forgot one dear elderly lady, who was obviously a Jewish “bubbe,” as she said to me, “Of course I’m still Jewish.” My resistance to the message of my Messiiah lessened as I saw the lives of these Jews reflect the love of God. And later that year, I prayed with Paul to accept Jesus as my personal Messiah and Lord.

Now, fifteen years later our earthly lives, knitted together in the Messiah, were coming to an unexpected end. Paul regained consciousness and in the midst of his pain and disorientation he was told it was unlikely that I would live or even come out of my coma. The doctors were confounded and God showed His might when I awoke a few days later. Though things were hazy and I had suffered brain damage, I gradually became coherent.

Since then, I’ve become more aware of how God has His hand on me. Though death has no dread for me as a believer, I have sufficient cause to want to continue on this earth for a few more years. God, in His divine will, has allowed me more time here. I believe that the miracle He performed in my life provides an opportunity for me to testify to His sustaining and healing power. I was given up for dead, but because Israel’s God lives, so do I!

There was some brain damage which caused a paralysis of my left side. However, with a brace on my leg and a cane, I’m learning to walk again. I’ve been taught to be as independent as possible with one hand: dressing, cutting food, etc.

My memory of many events in my life has been erased, but one thing I never forgot was the relationship I have with the God of Israel. It is this ever present strength from God, to rely upon Him in times of deep difficulty, that has kept me going and working hard in physical therapy.

My husband and I came to the threshold of death’s door, but God had other things in mind for us:

    “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done” (Psalm 118:17).

Our children weren’t physically hurt (even though our car was totally destroyed), and we took this as further evidence of God’s mercy. We were comforted in knowing that had we died, we would be in heaven and would have been someday reunited with our children, who also believe in Jesus the Messiah. If there are those reading this who do not have the assurance of knowing where they’ll be after death, my fervent hope and prayer is that they’ll look to the Giver of Life Himself.

When the accident occurred, I was 32 years of age. My life could have been snuffed out in the blinking of an eye, but it wasn’t. Through this experience I’ve learned just how near death is to each one of us. It could come at any time for anyone, and is never farther away than the car door, the step off the sidewalk, the next breath. But, the abundant everlasting life that Messiah gives is ever closer, ever within us. And, for a true believer, even death can’t take that away.

Editor’s Postscript: Lyn Mann was released from the hospital and continued to regain more and more use of her left side and even some of the details of her life thought to be erased have returned.