By Dr. Willie Ong
As a doctor, you never know who will come next to your clinic. Each patient has a unique story and I take the time to get to know the person well.
And so, when Joaquin came to my office some time ago, I wasn’t quite ready for what I was about to hear.
Joaquin said he came for a check-up because his heart had stopped.
“Uh, what do you mean ‘stopped’?” I inquired.
He explained, “I underwent a routine gallbladder operation and my doctors said that my blood pressure suddenly dropped for unknown reasons. I died and was clinically dead for a few minutes before my doctors revived me.”
“Ooohh, another near death experience,” I thought to myself as I recalled other patients I’ve seen with near death experiences or so-called NDEs.
Before I became a doctor, I had read voraciously on the subject, starting with the seminal book by Dr. Raymond Moody in the 70’s, to several New Age books in the 80’s, up to the definitive near death experience by best-selling author Betty J. Eadie in the 90’s.”
As the first one to popularize NDE, Dr. Moody had interviewed hundreds of patients who died but were revived. Curiously, the events are similar: First, it’s dying and leaving the physical body. Then you may spend some time hovering over your body watching the doctors frantically work on you. Next, you find yourself being drawn into a long dark tunnel, moving at high speed. You hear a rushing sound and after some time, you see a glimmering light at the end of the tunnel. You move closer to the light, as it becomes brighter and brighter. The light warms you, soothes you and comforts you unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. And suddenly, you are with a great being of light. You are overwhelmed and then you know you are in the presence of…
“You know doc, it’s very confusing for me,” Joaquin interrupted my thoughts. “I still don’t know what to make of it. You see, during the operation, I knew something was wrong. Then I felt I had left my body and went through a dark place, like a tunnel. And then, I met this being… He was shining… ” Joaquin paused.
“So who was he?” I edged on my seat.
“I don’t know who he was. I’m not a religious person but he was a being of light and he was very kind and loving. What I do know is that this ‘person’ told me that my death was premature. That it was not my time yet to die. He said I had a mission to fulfill in this life.”
Joaquin’s voice raised a pitch as he continued, “So I asked this being what kind of mission I could possibly have. I had been an ordinary hotel waiter in Roxas Boulevard for twenty years. I could barely support my wife and kids. At 46 years of age, just a high school graduate, there was no hope I could ever find a better job. My work does not exactly qualify as the ‘world-saving’ type.”
From his words, I gathered that Joaquin, like so many others with NDE, had wanted to be with this being of light in that heavenly place. He could not see the meaning of his apparently meaningless existence.
Then the being of light revealed to Joaquin his true purpose: Your mission on earth is to take care of your two children, to raise them and be a good father to them.”
Joaquin’s words struck me like a bolt of lightning. Here was I, a doctor, sometimes wondering about my existence, about my purpose in life. And I was suddenly aware of my own guilt of not giving enough time to the most important persons in my life, my two daughters.
Joaquin’s revelation almost made me cry. Here was the Supreme Being not asking for earth shattering discoveries or sacrifices, but to simply care for your children, like the loving father that He is.
An hour had passed and my other patients were in a frantic frenzy, but they can wait. God’s message doesn’t come too often. I told Joaquin that I would like to help him in his mission. And since I knew he was hard up, I said I promised to treat him and his family for free as long as he needs me.
Joaquin smiled but his mind was in another world. He wasn’t listening to me because he asked how much my fee was. “No, no, nothing,” I stammered, “You have paid me already. You have paid me more than you can imagine.”
Joaquin’s experience echoes the messages of inspirational books both old and new:
- No matter how ordinary your job is, there is a God-given purpose for your work and you must do it well.
- Spend time to improve family relationships, especially with your parents, children and relatives. Loving the family and healing broken relationships are part of our purpose in this life.
- Have faith. A big kind of faith. No matter how bad our situation may look like, there is always reason to hope. As Joaquin found out, God is constantly working in ways we can’t see. He’s in control and His immense love and compassion will see us through.