DEEP CALLS TO DEEP
Testimony of Maggie Lane, a servant of the most High God given to the Church in 2011
Does heaven exist? Yes it does. How do you know for sure? Because I’ve been there.
In 2001 I had a holy discontentment with life. I felt God calling me to do something but what? Reading my bible – Psalm 42, “deep calls to deep, in the roars of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” The words jumped out – I reasoned God is deep and he is calling me to a deeper place with him. I pushed the door for the parish ministry and was accepted, but I did not realize it was a prophetic call; a call that was fulfilled on March 24th, 2011, when I was involved in a drowning accident in Israel with my brother Stan.
Thirty-one of us, from several churches, set off happily on March 14th for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We were excited and very happy. Some had been before, but for most it was their first visit – and it is always exciting to see the Holy Land and share the experience with those who have not been before.
It was a great group and for the first time I was sharing the lead with my brother Stan, a Church of Scotland minister in Newport-on-Tay. We had a wonderful pilgrimage; so many highlights and some celebrated birthdays on tour. My husband Brian and I renewed our wedding vows at Cana in a surprise ceremony, celebrating 20 years of marriage. We shared wonderful fellowship that evening with new friends and enjoying Cana wine for the occasion.
We shared Communion by the Sea of Galilee, and again at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. We enjoyed wonderful worship and fellowship – morning prayers on the roof top of our hotel within the walls of the Old City, Jerusalem, one particular morning stands out as David Scott, husband of Frances announced after a night of wrestling or perhaps even a lifetime of wrestling with faith, that he had given his life to the Lord, we rejoiced greatly. Another of the group Bill Imlay dedicated himself afresh as a long serving elder of Newport Parish Church. Many good memories to share this morning, it was full on & wonderful.
Down to Eilat
By the time we reached Eilat a holiday resort in the South of Israel we were ready to relax and just let all the things that we’d seen and experienced trickle down. On out third day in Eilat, the 24th, several of the group had arranged to go with Brian snuba diving – a combination of scuba and snorkeling. I was hesitant to go scuba diving because of a lung problem and I chose instead to go snorkeling with my brother and sister in Lorna at the Coral Reef, which is in the opposite direction from the others. We had been there 2 years earlier and enjoyed a perfect day’s snorkeling, watching the sea life at the coral.
However on this particular occasion – the conditions were not as favorable as they had been previously. The water was choppy and cloudy, so we went out into the deep on the outside of the coral where you can snorkel between 2 piers, but you are out of your depth. We had no flippers and our gear was poor, our masks kept filling with water, which was very salty, you had to keep stopping to empty them. Lorna went first, I followed and Stan was last, keeping an eye out for us both.
About half way across I stopped again to empty my mask and looked back to see my brother Stan who was struggling, he was going down and gasping. I shouted to Lorna to go and get help, and swam back to him. By the time I got there his lips were blue and his mask was full of water he was flailing around and clearly exhausted. I ripped the mask from his face and tried to tell him to breath I was holding him.
He was struggling his windpipe was closed and he just couldn’t breath, I was keeping his head up, and just trying to keep him calm, I know I could not swim him back to shore, he was just too big for me and then he went calm, and said ‘let me go,’ he was tired and slipping into semi-consciousness. Obviously I could not let him go, I put my body under his to act as a kind of floating device for him to rest on keeping his head up, but the effort of doing this meant I was ingesting more and more water.
It could only have been about 10 minutes but it felt so much more, but finally the life guards reached us threw a ring and a rope around Stan and began to pull him in, I was beginning to struggle at that point and was given a float to swim in with. We reached the shore and Stan was carried up the steps of the pier and they began working on him, to get him to breath. I sat on the bottom step and was now gasping for breath; I just could not get any air down into my lungs. Lorna prayed over Stan rebuking death but then she saw I too was struggling. The last picture I remember was my dear sister-in-law standing with one hand over her husband and one hand over me praying. By now I was coughing up sea water mixed with blood, I felt the darkness over me and knew I was in trouble, all I could say was ‘Jesus – help me.’ I drifted into darkness.
I have relied on others to tell me what happened after that because I did not gain consciousness for 3 days and was unaware of how bad it was.
Two ambulances were called: Lorna came with me, Stan had recovered sufficiently to go on his own with a medic, Lorna did not know if I was alive or dead. She called her daughter in Scotland whilst in the ambulance, distraught and trying to explain what had happened and to ask for prayer. My niece asked her mum “is my dad dead?” no he is alive, but he is in the other ambulance. My niece then asked, is my auntie Margaret dead? Lorna replied ‘I don’t know.”
Within minutes of the accident happening news travelled to Scotland and prayer groups were activated immediately, a face book for prayer within 2 hours saw people signing up to join, the McKay’s put a prayer site up on our church website, calls were made to family and friends and churches, a whole network of prayer warriors pressed into the throne room for Stan and I – it was awesome. Lorna called Heather – a medic in the group and a good friend and told her to get the group praying and come to the hospital immediately. She and Stand had to find my husband Brian to let him know what had happened.
Heather arranged with the hotel to have a prayer room made available for the group, and they interceded for us 24/7 for three days until I woke up. Heather came to the hospital and came straight into the Intensive Care Unit where I was; Brian was talking to the doctors trying to find out how I was.
In Heather’s words “ I saw a bright light – a Holy Spirit light shining all around Maggie, Psalm 34:7 says “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” an angel of the Lord was guarding Maggie. Then she heard the Lord speak to her, “do not worry, she is with me – on an adventure! She will have much to share with my people when she returns.” Heather said she felt totally at peace, knowing I would be fine whatever appearances were, I would be restored and healed, she took some photographs of the readings of the machines to explain them to the team and to let them know what they as a team should be praying for. “It was time to war – battle was on.”
Stan was released from hospital quite disorientated but not thought to be in any immediate danger – the hospital gave him my wedding ring to look after which he promptly lost, his head was all over the place. That evening back at the hotel, Brian told the team that we would not be returning with them, and Dan Pearson spoke what would turn out to be a prophetic word. ‘This is not going to end in Maggie’s death, it is a Jonah situation, 3 days in the belly of the fish and she will be returned to us.’ “Do not worry, the Lord had said she is with me – on an adventure! She will have much to share with my people when she returns.”
I was on an adventure – at the same time as I felt myself slipping into some kind of darkness on the beach and calling out to the Lord – help! I found myself opening my eyes an being met by a large group of people, I knew immediately that I was in heaven, there were no road signs, there was no light at the end of a long tunnel, no floating above my body, I was just here one minute and in the presence of the Lord the next.
The large group of people came and welcomed me with hugs and celebration, the first being from my Dad and my Gran, I recognized them immediately not as a 65 year old and a 70 year old but as perfect beings who were totally themselves but perfect, no wrinkles, no grey hair – just smiling and joyous and hugging me. I did not recognize the others but felt I had some sort of association to them in some way and they knew me and were rejoicing and welcoming. I turned to see the Lord waiting for the crowd to stop and he held out his hands to me. I was totally in awe as waves of love and light and joy just flooded over me.
The light of heaven is like no other – there is no sun or moon, just an amazing illuminating light that perpetuates from the Lord, it is his glory shining. There were trees all around and wave upon wave of music, choirs singing worship being sung and different instruments being played but it was all in harmony and so beautiful and it never ceased. There was scripture being spoken continuously and I was taken to a room where I heard the Lord say ‘I stand at the door and knock, if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
I entered the room, which had a long banqueting table in the centre of it, and we all sat down, with the Lord seated at the top. The table was covered with the most beautiful food, healthy and vibrant and looked so good. The Lord spoke to me at this point, “do you know why I have brought you here?” I had no idea – I did not have any sense of I’m in heaven therefore I must be dead, nor was I worried in the least about how upset my family might be, there was just absolute peace and love and such joy at being in the presence of Jesus, it was amazing. I answered: “no Lord, I don’t know why you have brought me here, but I am so glad to be here.”
“I brought you here for revelation – to show you that you have idolatry in your heart.” That was so hard to hear – I did not like that, what idolatry could I possibly have that needed this.
“What is the idolatry in my heart Lord?” I asked terrified of the answer. “Food” he replied, food is your idol and it is making you unwell, but more than that you have stopped believing that my grace is sufficient for you to overcome this habit. Food has long been your comforter, when I have desired to comfort you and I want you to change. I am going to radically clean out your body and all of this (the stuff on the table) is what you may eat freely of. Now sup with me.
I felt terrible that I had abused the body the Lord had given me and had indeed made food an idol in my life, this revelation although painful to realize was followed by the assurance that I would be healed and my body would be brought into order within a set period of time. I shared a meal with the Lord, with my family and with the friends who had been there to greet me. I was so thankful of being given an opportunity to repent and receive the healing that was being offered to me, but there was more, it only began with me.
Word for the Church
“There is idolatry in my church,” the Lord went on to say, “and my people are unaware of how badly they are affected by a host of idols. There is much being said over homosexuality amongst those who serve as leaders in the church, but it is only one issue amongst many, there is pornography in my church, amongst leaders and pastors and teachers, there is sexual immorality at every level, there is materialism and the love of comfort and money. There is spiritual pride and a love of gossip and slander and self-promotion; people have become lovers of themselves.”
The Lord talked to me of many different things that are entrenched in the hearts of men and women in the church and we are not even aware of it or prepared to own up to it. He told me it would not be dealt with by legal means. The language of rights has become the platform for many abuses that consume the heart and minds of his people.
The Lord is full of compassion and love – he told me the Father’s hand is poised over this nation awaiting to heal it, to pour out his love upon us, for his church to repent and turn away form these idols that have wormed there way into our lives.
Although this was hard to hear, the overwhelming sense that I had was one of the Father’s love for his people and for the lost he has asked us to reach with the gospel. The Lord told me, “the People of this nation do not know their right hand from their left, they have lost the ability to know what is right and what is wrong.” There is such lawlessness in the land, but the church is called to reach out to them with the truth, but we are not living by the truth, we have forfeited the grace that is available to us, and have embraced these idols.
Then I heard the scripture I have heard so many times before, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive them their sins and heal their land.” Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Jesus went on to say to me, “I want you to speak this message to the church, tell them to cast down their idols and turn to me and I will hear their prayers and heal this land.”
“I don’t want to go Lord, I don’t want to do this, I want to stay here with you, please send someone else.” I pleaded several times, and gave numerous excuses not least that people would never believe me, but he took my face in his hands and said, “You have to go back; you are my chosen servant,” go and do what I command and I will be with you. Do not be afraid.”
Back to Earth
I felt myself being drawn back and opened my eyes to find I was in a hospital bed, Brian and Stan were beside me, I couldn’t speak I had tubes down my throat, but I tried to write with my finger on brother’s hand ‘I have seen the Lord.” It was 3 days to the hour since the accident. The group were on the bus making there way back to Tel Aviv to board the plane home when they got the news I had wakened and was going to be alright.
I slipped in and out of sleep until the following day, when the tubes were removed and I was moved through to a normal ward. I knew it had been serious but I had no idea how serious.
On the day of the accident the medics had failed to intubate me in the ambulance, breaking my front tooth in the process and damaging my vocal chords. I was sedated further once in hospital in order to let them intubate me successfully. At some point during that day or night, my heart failed – as it has been explained to me, I flat lined, my heart stopped and I was given adrenalin to get it going again.
During that first morning through in the ward after I woke up, I as very agitated, but suddenly felt a wave of peace lift me up like a duvet I could just float on – it was the prayers of all the people who were praying for me, it was amazing.
A little later a small elderly Jewish man came to my bedside and spoke to me in Hebrew. “English”, I croaked. He then spoke in German and I was able to pick up enough to understand. He showed me the serial number on his wrist; I understood that he was a holocaust survivor. He told me of his experience in Auschwitz and how his whole family had died, the cruelty of the guards, wires around his neck, which had left him with terrible scares, torture. His name was Jakob, and he survived because he was one of Oscar Schindler’s workers. He then took my hand and said something in Hebrew I did not understand. I saw him several times after that and asked a nurse who was in the room at the time what he had said to me. He comes in every morning apart from Sabbath and tells people his story, he has been doing this for over 40 years, he said to you, ‘God is great – you will survive.’
Katie and Wilson Marshall stayed behind in Eilat with Brian to support us, I will always be grateful for everything they did for us. They saw a side of their minister, or should I say a backside, they should never had had to see, dressed as I was initially in a hospital gown that tied up the back, leaving my dignity on display to all and sundry. Katie bought me a couple of nightdresses and restored my dignity.
On my second night the lord awoke me at 2am and told me to read Jonah. I had no idea what Dan had said just a few days earlier, I picked up my bible and began to read, shivers ran down my spine as I read chapter 2 Jonah’s prayer, there were the words of my call in verse 3 ‘all your waves and breakers swept over me, the engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. Verse 8, the words I had heard Jesus say to me in heaven, ‘those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs… what I have vowed I will make good. And then in chapter 4:11 ‘more than a hundred and twenty thousand people cannot tell their right hand from their left.”
The Lord wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people to repent, he was gracious, compassionate and forgave them. I read it over and over again for most of the night to the early morning, I cried, I promised as I heard again the Lord’s voice say, ‘tell my church, to turn from their idols.’
I finally fell asleep excited, I was not in heaven now, it could not be drugs or lack of oxygen as I had been wrestling with; God was still speaking to me. When I awoke I was singing with my croaky throat – ‘Jesus he can move a mountain, my God is mighty to save, mighty save, forever author of salvation he rose and conquered the grave Jesus conquered the grave. I was so happy to hear the kids sing this at the prize giving because I know Katy and Wilson telephoned people to let them know I was back and singing praises to God.
On my third day of constantly being surrounded by Hebrew or Russian speaking medics, I was finally given an explanation of what happened to me. My doctor, a kind of John Lennon look alike, said one morning, ‘so Margaret you remember what happened? I explained yes I went to help my brother and got into difficulty and then I passed out once on the beach.
“Ok Margaret, this is what happened – you drowned, you had a heart attack, you died, 3 days later you woke up, hopefully this will have a good ending.” I was very reassured to hear this. It took a while to get used to Russian abruptness or humour. He went to say same thing happened 2 months ago to another lady at that same beach. How is she doing, I enquired. “She didn’t make it. You rest now and keep breathing.” Next, my Russian male nurse who resembled uncle Fester from the Adams family. “You breath in here.” 3 balls in the air, you don’t get 3 balls in the air, you’re never leaving this place. I practiced a lot!
There were so many emails, and messages Katie answered so many, Wilson kept in touch with everyone back home supporting Brian in this, and Brian was a rock throughout it all. I asked for prayer that my heart would not be damaged as a result of the heart failure incident – I did not want lasting damage. By the time I had my angiogram a week later in Tel Aviv in another hospital, I was told by Dr Finklestien that my heart was perfect, infact I had the heart of an 18 year old. Katie called through to Wilson who was now back in Kirkliston and at church and was able to give the good news.
So much prayer, so much healing, so much revelation. I did not know what to do with this message, and went into a period of recovery and listening for God over the next 3-4 months, until I heard him say begin with you – the people he placed me with to serve. I have no idea where it goes from here – but I do now heaven is very real, it is a place of light and love and joy and celebration. We are welcomed by a crowd on our arrival and taken to a banqueting hall to the feast of the lamb.
God loves us with an everlasting love – his desire is to restore us, to have his church back, to fulfill its purpose to a generation who do not know their right hand from their left. There is so much more I could share with you, but there isn’t enough time today, I will over the coming months, but for today remember, “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
Whatever idols we harbour knowingly or in ignorance, ask the Lord to examine our hearts and if it is revealed then by his grace which is all sufficient let’s get rid of them and embrace the promise ‘that if his people who are called by his name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek his face and turn form our wicked ways, then will God hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land. God’s eyes will be open, he will be willing to look upon us once more and hear the prayer we offer up to him for our nation.
I have been asked was this whole thing not just the brain’s way of dealing with trauma, wasn’t it just drugs. I have to say I absolutely believe it was real – others were involved. Dan, on the evening of the accident, giving a prophetic word that this was a Jonah situation, I was on a life support machine at the time I did not know he had said this, but it turned out to be true, I woke up 3 days to the hour after the accident. Heather the nurse who came into the ICU unit the afternoon of the accident and who saw a bright light which she described as an angel encamped around me – and the still small voice saying to her, ‘she is not here, she is with me on an adventure and she will have much to share with my people when she returns.”
The wakening up through the night once I was returned to a normal ward and off medication – the urgency to read Jonah and have all that I had heard confirmed and the ongoing words God has spoken to me – it can’t all be drugs, why are others involved in this revelation too?
I do not find it easy to share this message, I get fearful people will think I am a nutter, or trying to draw attention to myself, but I must be faithful – there is a whole nation of people who do not know their right hand from their left, everything is being shaken and the Church is called to arise in the midst of this to speak the truth and give hope, it is the worst of times, it is the best of times – God is poised to move he awaits his church to return to him in intimacy, humility and holiness to cast down her idols and pray.
Margaret Lane 2011