I finished this book recently, another story of a young child who underwent a near-death-experience (NDE). Alex Malarkey was six when he was in a severe car accident with his father. The accident left him a quadriplegic, his life saved by heroic efforts from the medical team, and by prayer. Yes, this is another Christian miracle story, following on the heels of the four-year-old NDE experiencer I wrote about a few months ago.
While much of the book deals with efforts to save Alex’s life, the truly remarkable content comes from what Alex saw while in a coma, the places he visited, and the wisdom he received. While his body was immediately knocked unconscious in the accident, he has clear memories of what happened inside the car to himself and his father. He sees human and heavenly interventions to save his father from serious injury, and to save his own life.
After emerging from his coma and learning to communicate he begins sharing bits and pieces of what he experienced while unconscious. The first time he talks about seeing angels in his room with his Dad and a friend present (they of course could not see these angels), Kevin, his father, admits that the presence of angels “. . . are not part of my [conservative evangelical] experience or background, but I can’t deny or ignore that they took place. . . . It may sound crazy, but it did happen. I’ll leave the explanations to the theologians.” (p 114)
Interspersed with commentary from Alex himself, Kevin details the years immediately following the accident, and the numerous miracles which followed. For myself it was the supernatural aspect that made the story riveting. “From the time of the accident, Alex says, the angels have graced our home. . . . Alex knew them all by name, and he would carry on conversations with them.” (p 166f)
Although the book is not preachy, it does get a little on the wearisome side when it goes to great lengths to tell about all the prayers, the church life of the Malarkey family and so on. I would offer one opinion: when Kevin says, “We all need to be on guard against counterfeit truth. Anything that doesn’t square with Scripture is counterfeit. Alex’s angels never operate outside the parameters we find in Scripture–the measure of authenticity,” I have to fall back on all the material I have read on NDE’s and other spiritual phenomena.
The Spirit world always comes to us in ways we can relate to, in ways we are comfortable with, within our own frame-of-reference. So I can accept that in a churchy family like the Malarkeys the Divine would appear in ways they can understand. Not everyone experiences the heavenly realm in the same way, because we all come with our own background experiences. No one way is normative for everyone else. With that qualification I quite enjoyed the story. It is incredible, really. The healing that occurred, the medical measures that were taken, successfully, the tremendous outpouring of support to the family and to Alex during his recovery process, all are a very uplifting. Alex, through his accident, recovery and sharing of his heavenly experiences, has impacted a huge number of people. “God has touched so many lives and brought so much good out of Alex’s pilgrimage that I know God is not only directing His plan, but He is also directing the timing of His plan. That’s where our confident hope rests.” (p 209)
I recommend this book to anyone, but especially Christians and those comfortable with Christian-talk!