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Authors: Betty Malz

Tags: #eternity, #BIO018000, #heaven, #life after death

My Glimpse of Eternity

BOOK: My Glimpse of Eternity
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© 1977 by Betty P. Malz

Published by Chosen Books

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

www.chosenbooks.com

Chosen Books is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available for this title.

ISBN 978-0-8007-9066-0

Ebook edition created 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

The hymn “I Have Been Born Again” is used by permission of the copyright owner, Jerry Vogel Music Co., Inc., New York, NY. Words by R. H. McDaniel and music by Charles H. Gabriel.

Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations identified KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.

With the exception of Mary Barton, the names of all doctors and medical personnel used in this book have been changed.

Cover design by Lookout Design, Inc.

This book is dedicated to
everyone who needs a miracle

Acknowledgments

T
o Len LeSourd for the months of hard work and professional “know how” he invested . . . taking my raw material and refining it into digestible reading. His shepherding and tutoring have been to me a journalism course I could not have afforded.

To Catherine Marshall for her “reader’s digest form” of my story that got my writing career “off the ground” (“A Glimpse of Eternity,” May 1976 of
Guideposts
).

To Carl, my husband, for keeping his hand in the middle of my back, sometimes patting, sometimes pushing.

To my gracious mother-in-law, Dorothy Upchurch . . . for her patience with me during the long years of my immaturity, and for allowing me to express and confess about
us
.

Foreword

M
y first knowledge of Betty Malz came through a pamphlet mailed to me by a stranger. The story it contained riveted my attention. Betty’s experience seemed like nothing so much as a modern version of the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:22–24, 35–43); it was so spectacular that it defied credibility. I knew then that I would have to investigate it all the way.

Correspondence with Mrs. Malz eventually resulted in a date set for a visit with us at Evergreen Farm in Virginia. “May I bring my daughter April with me?” she wrote.

A few days later as the passengers from Houston steamed through the gates at Dulles International Airport, Len and I immediately spotted Mrs. Malz and her daughter. Tall and willowy-slim, with clear eyes in a face alive with the joy of life, Betty is still a young and attractive woman. The delightful nine-year-old with long blonde hair, two steps ahead of her mother, opened with, “Do you have any horses on your farm?”

Laughingly, her mother explained, “April has a passion for all animals. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.”

Later that evening, while April was outside happily making friends with Toby and Gretchen, the two dogs, and Spooky, the cat, her mother settled down to talk. And then I heard from Betty’s own lips the story of her amazing experience.

It happened when she was twenty-seven years old. In the Union Hospital of Terre Haute, Indiana at 5 a.m. on a July morning, 1959, Betty was pronounced dead, a sheet pulled over her head. The Lord had awakened her father, the Rev. Glenn Perkins, at 3:30 that morning and had told him to take the forty-minute drive back to the hospital. It was part of God’s master plan that Betty’s father was to be standing by his daughter’s bed to see for himself the drama about to take place.

In
My Glimpse of Eternity
, Betty Malz describes her experience on the other side of that dividing line that we call “death,” and how she returned to her body on the hospital bed—to the stunned amazement of her grieving father and the hospital personnel.

“You make dying sound like good news,” her husband John later told her after listening to her experience.

This book
is
good news for all of us whose mortality haunts us.

Upon occasion God breaks into human life to give us a glimpse of what lies ahead for us. Betty Malz’s remarkable experience is a resounding “Yes, there
is
life after death.” More than that, “Yes, God is real and does, in our time, still have power over life and death.”

Yet
My Glimpse of Eternity
is even more than that. For it is the story of how God dealt with a proud, materialistic, controlling woman who had to die to learn how to live.

Here is a ringingly triumphant book, a love letter from the Lord of glory to each one of us.

Catherine Marshall
Evergreen Farm
July 5, 1977

Prologue

T
he transition was serene and peaceful. I was walking up a beautiful green hill. It was steep, but my leg motion was effortless and a deep ecstasy flooded my body. I looked down. I seemed to be barefoot, but the complete outer shape of my body was a blur and colorless. Yet I was walking on grass, the most vivid shade of green I had ever seen. Each blade was perhaps one inch long, the texture like fine velvet; every blade was alive and moving. As the bottoms of my feet touched the grass, something alive in the grass was transmitted up through my whole body with each step I took.

“Can this be death?” I wondered. If so, I certainly had nothing to fear. There was no darkness, no uncertainty, only a change in location and a total sense of well-being.

All around me was a magnificent deep blue sky, unobscured by clouds. Looking about, I realized that there was no road or path. Yet I seemed to know where to go.

Then I realized I was not walking alone. To the left, and a little behind me, strode a tall, masculine-looking figure in a robe. I wondered if he were an angel and tried to see if he had wings. But he was facing me and I could not see his back. I sensed, however, that he could go anywhere he wanted and very quickly.

We did not speak to each other. Somehow it didn’t seem necessary, for we were both going in the same direction. Then I became aware that he was not a stranger. He knew me and I felt a strange kinship with him. Where had we met? Had we always known each other? It seemed we had. Where were we now going . . . ?

1
The Warning

T
hrough the hall window I saw my mother-in-law walking up to the front door, suitcase in hand. With a low moan I realized that John had done it again. He had invited his mother for a visit and had forgotten to tell me.

It could not have come at a worse time. John, our daughter Brenda, and I were getting ready to go on vacation. Drawing a deep breath, I opened the door with a smile of welcome.

Mother Upchurch dropped her suitcase on the hall rug and looked around. There was severity in the way her jet-black hair was done up in a bun on the back of her head. The strong set of her jaw was somehow heightened by the mole in the middle of her chin. Her probing dark brown eyes mirrored a sharp and active mind.

“New drapes?” she asked, pointing to the living room.

I nodded and braced myself for the question I knew was coming.

Dorothy walked into the living room and studied the drapes for a moment before slipping behind the long davenport to feel their texture. “They go well with the furniture,” she said, approvingly, as she studied the red, white and black color motif of the room. “How much did they cost?”

I sighed. “Less than you would believe.” Then I turned the conversation to something else, irritated that I had to give so many evasive answers to her questions about how much John and I were spending on our possessions. My replies ranged from a terse “not much” to “about half of what it was worth” to “an unbelievable bargain.”

Sensing my annoyance, Dorothy retrieved her suitcase and quickly headed for the guest bedroom where she always stayed, leaving me to fight down my guilty feelings. Dorothy Upchurch, despite her probing manner and unannounced visits, was not a selfish person. Her appearance in the home of her children always meant pans of fresh cookies, succulent baked dishes, washing, mending, ironing—the giving of herself to dozens of small tasks. She deeply cared for the members of her family. If only she weren’t so efficient and so often right in her observations and evaluations.

Later that afternoon, before John came home from work and Brenda returned from a playmate’s house, Mother revealed her primary concern as we sat drinking coffee at the kitchen table.

“John is working too hard,” she began.

“John has always worked hard,” I replied. “No one can slow him down.”

“You can,” she said, her intense eyes drilling holes through me.

It was a tired, familiar conversation. John had been sick with rheumatic fever as a boy. A heart murmur resulted but doctors couldn’t agree as to whether there was heart damage, or if so how much. Meanwhile, John had grown up intensely competitive in athletics, an outdoor man who loved hard work as the manager of a Sunoco service station in our home town of Terre Haute, Indiana.

Dorothy sipped her coffee and kept her eyes on me. “The work he does at the station doesn’t worry me so much as the financial pressure he’s under,” she continued.

“What financial pressure?” I asked, fighting down irritation.

“The pressure to pay for a new car, a new boat, and now I understand you’re thinking of building a new home,” she said.

I bit my lip to keep from lashing out at my mother-in-law. Why did she meddle so much in our affairs? Emotions under control, I tried to explain that we were not reckless spenders, that John knew how to manage money.

But Dorothy doggedly returned to the issue of her son’s health. “I know in my spirit that John will have a heart problem unless you slow him down,” she said, her lips tightly pursed together.

Dorothy made her visit a short one when she learned we were getting ready to go on a vacation. Her concern for John’s health nagged at me for several days until I firmly decided that my mother-in-law was a negative thinker about her son. I was not going to dwell on death, but life. At twenty-nine, John’s vitality seemed endless. We loved sunshine, water, boats, convertibles, tennis, music. At twenty-seven, I felt so glowing with good health that I could not recall being sick in bed for even one day of my life.

And yet my physical death was only weeks away!

The morning before we were to leave for our two-week Florida vacation, my husband began the day on the run as usual. Still buttoning his shirt, John slid into the turquoise leather breakfast bar of our kitchen and ordered “one glass of orange juice to match the wall.” I had just finished painting the kitchen wild tangerine.

As I set the juice in front of him, John impulsively leaned his head against my side, then squeezed me, his muscular arms around my waist. His affection had always been as spontaneous and impulsive as a child. When he released me I served him his coffee and scrambled eggs and bacon. Then I brought over my pot of tea, a cup and a saucer and slid in beside him.

“Look at the label on this tea bag,” I said. “‘Discontent breeds progress.’ That describes me, John. I’ve been restless for months, but getting ready for this Florida trip has cured me.”

John’s face clouded. “The vacation is off, Bets. I just can’t leave the station now.”

He couldn’t be serious, I thought to myself. I searched his face. It was sober and boyish, his pug nose dotted with freckles, but the amiable lightheartedness was gone. I had sensed a heaviness in him when he came home from work the previous night. Obviously not wanting a before-bedtime confrontation, he had waited until now to hand out the bad news.

“Why are you doing this to us?” I asked stonily.

“The new foreman isn’t ready to handle things on his own and Ike’s been gone for two days,” he replied. “Our help situation is a mess.”

“Ike is the problem,” I snapped. “You’ve got to fire him. He only cares about two things—pork chops and Sweet Lucy (wine).” All my pent-up hostility toward black people poured out in those words.

“Ike is a good mechanic. I can’t fire him just because he has a problem with Sweet Lucy,” John replied evenly.

“Somewhere there must be another good mechanic you could hire,” I said crossly.

John just shook his head. “It isn’t only the problems at the station. We’re loaded with debts and the vacation will only put us in deeper.” He finished his breakfast quickly, gave me a peck on the cheek instead of the usual lingering kiss and charged out of the house. The zoom of the engine, and the grind of gears as he sped to work were just a few tell-tale signs of my husband’s mad dash through life. “Jittery John” my mother called him. She would warn him that life was meant to be sipped, not gulped. John would just smile at her.

He was also inclined to think out loud. My parents, Glenn and Fern Perkins, had asked us to dinner several weeks before. While we were talking about our proposed Florida vacation at the table, John suddenly blurted out, “Come along with us. Dad, you can drive the boat while Betty and I water-ski. Brenda and Gary can play together, and Mother, think of the rest you will get under the warm Florida sun.”

Although our two families got along very well, I wasn’t certain that I wanted to spend a two-weeks’ vacation with my parents. But as we talked my enthusiasm grew. Our daughter Brenda was six years old. My parents’ last child, Gary, was also a six-year-old. When Mother and I were both obviously pregnant, we had embarrassed my brother Jim by sitting side by side wearing maternity dresses at his high school graduation. My baby was born first, so Mother took care of me and Brenda when I came out of the hospital. In return, five weeks later, I ministered to the needs of Mother and baby Gary. Not every mother can have a daughter and a brother so near the same age—who enjoy playing together as they grow up. Over the years Mother had become a kind of insurance policy during family get-togethers. She watched the children closely and was in constant prayer for the safety of all of us when we were around boats or traveling in the car.

As I washed the breakfast dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, I decided not to call my parents just yet with the news that John had cancelled our vacation. Perhaps he would change his mind again. I focused my thoughts on that probability. Prayer, to me, was the heart’s desire put into words. “Lord, You know how much I want to go to Florida,” I prayed softly.

There was more to this trip for me than just a Florida vacation. I was bored with our life in Terre Haute. Our comfortable ranch house, the convertible, the yellow and white cabin cruiser which we kept at nearby Lake Catarack—all things we had worked hard for—had somehow not brought us fulfillment. A change of location was needed, I had decided. And Florida had the answers for both John and me. A gasoline station in the travel-heavy vacation state would be ideal for my husband. With his drive, John could quickly develop it into an all-purpose automotive business, as he was doing in Terre Haute. For me, the year-round outdoor life would be a true answer to prayer. Expenses would be less too. No worry about winter coats and boots.

The morning’s setbacks and irritations continued. Brenda awoke tired and cross; at the breakfast table she overturned a glass of milk. When I found a moment to relax and turned on the radio, the music that poured forth made me cringe. Oh no! It was Art Lindsey’s program. The way this freelance preacher scrambled together country western music with religion was enough to ruin your day.

I suppose that part of my annoyance was caused by the way Art sauntered into our church on Sunday evenings and accompanied the song service with his guitar. We liked the way we had always handled this part of the program through organ music. Art was always putting the emphasis on praise. “Let everyone that hath breath, praise the Lord,” he would say, quoting Scripture. Then he would suggest songs that were folksy and not in keeping with the mood of the service.

I snapped off the radio and put on my favorite Jack Holcomb record; Holcomb’s singing of the great old hymns fed me more than almost any sermon.

I went down the hall to make the beds and glanced with a pang at the matching mother and daughter swimsuits I had laid out to pack. They were yellow and white-checked gingham with a ruffle on the bottom of the short skirt; Brenda’s had several rows of ruffles covering the seat section which she labeled her “bimer.” The ruffle helped to hide my too-thin figure. I winced at the memory of myself at age thirteen standing five foot nine inches tall and weighing but 100 pounds. My brothers used to say, “We never believed that storks delivered babies until Betty was born. Most kids look like their parents, she looks like the stork.” To offset my self-centeredness about my skinniness, I became an energetic doer, proud of my good health and school accomplishments in music, drama and academics. Learning that tall women rarely get sympathy because they never seem to appear as if they require it, I took pride in my independent attitude.

The thought spell was broken by the phone ringing. I wanted it to be John with good news—and it was. “Have you called your folks yet?” he began. “Good. This new man is working out fine and Ike is back on the job. The guys want me to take this vacation and they say they’ll work extra hours if necessary. Let’s take some money out of savings and leave tomorrow as planned. You need it; I need it. I can feel the tug of the tow rope, the spray in my face, and the sand between my toes already!”

His exuberant voice set my heart to singing. My dream was going to come true, all of it. There was only the faintest negative thought in the far reaches of my mind—a tiny inner premonition that I determinedly ignored.

BOOK: My Glimpse of Eternity
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