Ten hours after our newborn son entered Heaven, it appeared I was not far behind him. That’s when the doctors decided it was critical to transfer me to the Houston Medical Center for life support.
The special circumstances allowed for Paul to ride shotgun in the ambulance during my transport—a forty-five-minute harrowing drive for my young husband. The traffic in Houston was awful, and the roads were rife with detours, potholes and bottlenecks. The frustrated ambulance driver screamed obscenities at other drivers as he made his way to the Med Center.
Paul says he was thankful I was completely unaware of what was happening, but that wasn’t the case for him, and knowing the truth was killing him—and changing him.
There was nothing too difficult for Paul Sarvadi to tackle, nothing he couldn’t solve, nothing he could fear. Wise beyond his twenty-one years, he was a hard-working and honest young man who deeply loved his family. Raised in a Catholic home by parents of integrity and virtue, Paul was taught great family values and responsibility, and was encouraged to excel in school.
What he wasn’t taught was how to approach the God of the Universe by way of His own promise of Messiah Yeshua. He didn’t really know God. Not personally, not relationally. But God knew him, and He was using all the pain and uncertainty Paul was feeling to change my husband’s heart.
This crisis sent him to a place of faith he had never been before.
As the ambulance made its way through the frenetic labyrinth of traffic, praying seemed to be the only thing Paul could do. He says he thought about the events of that morning—our son’s birth—and death. He thought about me lying unresponsive on the gurney behind him—oblivious to what was happening—about how unfair he had been to me these past few months as he was caught up in the trappings of his entrepreneurial endeavors. He thought about our young daughter waiting in anticipation at home, and about the plans he would have to make to bury our son. His mind was overwhelmed and his heart heavy. Strangely enough, he wasn’t angry at God. In fact, Paul says for the first time, he was actually open to God’s divine plan as it dawned on him this wasn’t something he could fix on his own—and that was okay—because it wasn’t for him to fix. Keeping me alive was God’s responsibility—and God could do it.
It took this crisis for him to see no amount of self-discipline, self-motivation or self-confidence was going to miraculously heal me or bring back our son. Only God could do that, if He willed—and the convicting power of this Holy Spirit wisdom caused Paul’s heart to change.
Years later he said, “I had become so vested in our Amway business, and financial success had become so important, I lost sight of what really mattered. It took the loss of our baby and the possibility of losing my wife to open my eyes.”
As he repented for his self-righteousness, he confessed only Jesus was righteous, and he needed a relationship with Him, even if I didn’t pull through.
Paul told me later that almost immediately he felt a warm blanket of forgiveness and love fall upon him, giving him comfort and reassurance of God’s faithfulness.
It was then the ears of his heart opened, and he heard the still small Voice of the Spirit speak directly to him. “Have no fear. No matter what the doctors say, no matter how dire the report may be, Victoria is going to live. I have a plan for her—and you.”
Paul will tell you to this day that he couldn’t explain it, he couldn’t quite understand it, but in that harrowing ambulance ride, God gave him a sublime gift of faith and a heartfelt peace he had never known.
Suddenly, the vehicle came to an abrupt stop as the doors swung open. Bright light surrounded me as two young men roughly pulled the gurney from the back of the ambulance. As they released the collapsed legs to full position and swiftly wheeled me into the hospital, I felt myself slipping off the stretcher and spinning as if I were inside a kaleidoscope.
“Be careful,” I wanted to shout. I prayed they wouldn’t drop me. Thankfully, Paul suddenly showed up by my side.
I knew he wouldn’t let anything happen to me.
Once we got inside, things started to happen quickly as they transferred me from the stretcher to a hospital bed and began to systematically connect me to various technical instruments, tubes and monitors. I was still upset no one spoke directly to me—what was it about bedside manner they didn’t get?
After an initial examination, I saw one of the doctors walk over to Paul, who stood at the back of the room. I couldn’t make out everything he said, but I heard his last sentence, and it made me angry.
“It doesn’t look good. You should call your family, if she makes it through the night it will be a miracle.”
How thoughtless to say something negative like that within earshot of a patient!
That’s when I felt the bed moving again. They were taking me somewhere—very quickly—and when Paul bent down to kiss me on the forehead, I tried to scream.
“Don’t let them take me, Paul! They don’t have me positioned right on this bed—and they’re moving way too fast—the baby and I are going to fall off…I can feel us falling…”
I had felt an unsteady floating sensation from the moment they pulled me from the ambulance, as though the gurney was not level or I was hanging off of it somehow. Now, as they hurried me into yet another room with even harsher lights, the fear became reality as the security of the bed vanished, and I felt myself fall—and die.
Suddenly, the equipment around me made loud beeping sounds to alert the hospital staff something was wrong.
“Code Blue, ICU, Code Blue, ICU.”
In his book 90 Minutes in Heaven, Don Piper recalls what it was like when he found himself standing in heaven after dying on the road in a horrific traffic accident.
It wasn’t like that for me. I didn’t have any sense of myself standing on firm celestial ground when I died, only a profound sense of falling head-first into a void of space and time, with ever-increasing velocity. Like falling off the roof of a very tall building.
I felt like I was free-falling very fast through what I can only describe as a grid of time measurement. A blueprint-like scale of grid lines, I instinctively knew was personal and uniquely mine. It was my own universe, a divine plan of time and space calculations that I shouldn’t be moving through at such a warped speed. It was at that point that I realized I was dying. The term, “Life is passing you by,” suddenly had new meaning to me, as I felt the sensation of literally passing through my grid of life considerably faster than human time.
Yet, I was unafraid.
What I vividly recall as I fell through my time-life grid was the awareness of an incredible amount of knowledge available to me at various points along the way. All of this knowledge was like treasure to me. Treasure troves of information and keys to hidden spiritual secrets that reminded me of gems or golden bars. They glistened and shone and were so beautiful. I knew these treasure boxes contained the mysteries of God’s Word, gifts of prophecy, teaching, knowledge and wonderful experiences involving people I loved—and God, Himself. I knew these gifts were specifically and irrevocably mine. I wanted these treasures. In fact, I felt like they were rightfully mine—after all, this was my life I was passing through! But I had to leave them all behind as my hastened journey through time would not allow me to acquire—experience—any of these gifts.
Suddenly, the space through which I was soaring tunneled and narrowed and when I could go no further I stopped falling—like being stuck in the tip of a funnel. Then, I felt an immediate release from my physical body—like I was being delivered out of myself. I literally felt my life force—my spirit—leave my body.
In this newly birthed “spirit self,” I retained all of my mental faculties. I could see, remember and reason. I could feel emotions, and I still had all my memories and my personality. Yet there was a euphoric realization that I felt no pain—I was somehow disconnected from that earthly burden. I felt wonderful freedom, no longer restricted to the limitations of my human body.
I had a clear presence of mind, will and emotions—everything about me was still intact but not in a physical sense. I felt like I could move anywhere, through walls, even the cosmic universe if I wanted to, but then I realized something was holding me back from ultimate freedom. It was as if an invisible tether or umbilical cord connected me to some kind of weight.
Then, from a vantage point high above, I looked down at what was keeping me from experiencing complete freedom and what I saw amazed me. It was my own body. It didn’t even look like me. My color looked wrong, sort of a greenish yellow. Severe edema made me look different too, all puffy and bloated. My eyes looked swollen shut, like a defeated boxer. There were tubes everywhere. And I instinctively knew the body I was looking at was not pregnant—that my baby was gone.
A deep sadness washed over my spirit as I continued to look down at my body, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t alone. Hovering to my right was a great and powerful messenger of glowing bronze and amber, clothed in shining white. In a split second, I realized I recognized him and knew him by name…