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First Shock in the Dark

As I mentioned in my first post (click here for my first post, which contains the most startling and objective evidence to date), I was formerly a die-hard atheist, and I had been so for several years. Actually, if you asked me, I would tell you something like, “I’m not exactly an atheist, because why define yourself by unbelief in a nonexistent God?” or “Atheism is just a minor consequence of my overall philosophy.” And I really thought I had it together, that although I didn’t and couldn’t know everything, that I nevertheless had a rational worldview that would stand the test of time. A worldview with no place for God or anything supernatural.

That all began to change on December 24th, 1993, Christmas Eve. In true bachelor form that day, I was doing all of my shopping the day before Christmas. I had already become close enough with my new girlfriend Elisa (now my wife) over the past month that she and I were shopping together that day. Later as we drove back from the mall toward my home at my brother Carl’s house, I had this nagging feeling that I had forgotten to buy a gift for someone in my family. The nagging feeling built up into a level of annoyance that seemed out of proportion to the circumstances. There had to be something more disturbing underneath it all. There was something uncanny about it that I couldn’t figure out.

Back home, we dropped off the packages in my back room and entered the rear door into the kitchen. It was then that my brother Carl approached us with a sort of burdened yet purposeful look on his face. “Blaine, did you hear about Grandma?” “Yeah,” I answered, “she broke her hip on Monday.” He sort of shrugged that off. “Oh, no. She passed away today.” Just then in a confusing mix of relief and guilt I realized that the person I didn’t remember to buy a gift for was my grandmother. Strange coincidence, but I was too much in shock to really think about it. After discussing it a bit more with my brother, I headed back out to my room to think.

In the light of the globe-shaped candle she had bought me, Elisa and I lay on my bed together, embracing side-by-side. She kept quiet under the circumstances, and I began to think about how my grandmother’s death was actually for the better. After 57 years of marriage to my grandfather after which she had been a widow for almost 10 years, she had deteriorated mentally to the point that she didn’t even recognize me anymore. I had a brief thought that she’s moved on to a better place. But the “rational” side of me reminded me of my skepticism of life-after-death, so I considered the thought a mere throwback to my childhood influences, or something people tend to comfort themselves with in these circumstances. I could only put that kind of thinking far from my mind.

Just then, something happened I really didn't expect: the candle suddenly went out. I could not even come close to preparing for what happened next. Before me I “saw” my grandmother’s face. She was smiling peacefully—a look I hadn’t seen from her since before my grandfather died—a look that anyone in my family would remember seeing in the photos of the two of them together that we kept on the piano back at home. I sensed my grandfather’s joyful presence behind her. All the while a part of me was seriously fighting this whole “vision” (not so ghostly, more in my mind’s eye but still in front of me, as if I momentarily could see into another dimension rather than her invading mine.).

In my resistance it came as quite a jolt to my mind when the next thing I “realized” something impossible to my mindset: Somehow I felt and could almost see that Jesus was standing at the head of the bed behind us with his arms spread wide around us all. I didn’t look back because it was almost as if I could somehow see behind me, but even stronger was the feeling of an overwhelming, compelling, yet loving presence.

My mind had to snap shut (often the mind does this when it is faced with something that is so utterly contrary to its beliefs that it must explain it away at all costs.) It’s just my early childhood upbringing, wishful thinking, and western cultural influences creeping in again, I thought. Of course. My grandma just died and I’m grieving. Plus I didn’t actually “see” anything by any rational standard. Yes, that’s it. Far be it from me to believe in any God or ghostly visions. Put it out of my mind. What is, is what is. Nothing more. Tell no one of this experience, not even your girlfriend lying next to you. Chalk it up to silly, childish, wishful thinking. Yes. You are an atheist, and an atheist you will remain. Shrug it off and get back to reality.

That was where I left off. But the stage had merely been set for something far larger.

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