Lest you think I have ignorantly blinded myself to the idea of a place called Hell where people are punished forever, I want to openly share with you a book that vividly describes a first-hand experience with what the author interprets as hell. Howard Storm’s book, My Descent Into Death, is a riveting account of his astonishing near-death experience, in which he had intense encounters with both tormenting, hateful beings as well as with the most extravagantly loving, comforting Beings he could have ever imagined.
I’m putting this book out there, precisely so that you will see that I have explored in-depth, not just the Bible, but also books like this with first-hand accounts of experiencing ‘ hell’ after dying.
Before I tell you how I’ve interpreted this book, let it transform me, and yet still have no fear of hell whatsoever, I want to give you a brief synopsis:
Howard Storm, before his encounter with death, was an angry, devout atheist who manipulated people and did not live a life of love. He hated religion and whole-mindedly believed that the material world was all there was to life. On June 1, 1985, at the age of 38, he experienced death due to a perforation of his stomach. When his body completely shut down, he let go of his life, and thought he would be entering nothingness. But instead, he was instantly in his hospital room, more alive than ever, looking at his body, all of his senses awakened fully, and being drawn out of the room by beings that he thought were his doctors and nurses, but soon discovered were in this other realm with him, outside the physical realm.
They drew him into the darkness and proceeded to attack and torment him. He heard a voice within him, his OWN voice, telling him to cry out to God, and as he did, the hateful beings retreated immediately. He remembered the song “Jesus loves me” from his childhood, and something within him started singing that song. When he cried out to Jesus, the most unconditional, bright Light he had ever known came rushing to him, and he was instantly surrounded by light and love, unlike anything he had ever experienced. He called this bright ‘Light Being’ his friend, and this friend brought him to many more friends, and they all surrounded him with the most brilliant Light and Love he had ever known.
He watched his entire ‘life movie’ with them, and felt their complete acceptance of him, although he had lived such a life of non-love, deception, and fear. He wanted to stay with them forever, but they urged him to return to his body because his spirit was so underdeveloped and he had much to learn about love. When he returned to his body, he woke up and everything changed. He completely transformed his life, became a pastor, and gives his life now serving the world in love.
When I read this book the first time, I was a strong hell-believing Christian, and I viewed it in that light and everything made sense. But when I let go of my Christian belief system, I had to revisit this book, because it had had such an impact on me. How could I reconcile my new thoughts of there being NO eternal punishment, if I was so impacted by this book, and had felt my spirit so strongly resonate with this incredible true story?
With my new eyes, I read the account of this story again, and I was so uplifted!
When Howard Storm ‘died’ he was an atheist, with no belief in anything outside of the material world – so definitely no belief in Jesus, since he didn’t even believe in God. And YET, where did he ultimately end up? In a realm of beautiful love and light – a state of being that he never wanted to leave, that completely transformed his life forever. This, and countless other near-death experiences, confirm that what we believe at the time of the death transition does not seal our fate for eternity.
Yes, he encountered great darkness and torment when he first left his body, but ultimately the darkness had no power over him whatsoever. His true essence, which had always been love and light, although he had lived a life of emptiness and hate, rose up within him even as the hatred engulfed him.
The darkness actually worked as a catalyst to bring him to the light.
And both were ultimately his choice.
In a way, I think it makes sense, since he was full of hatred for himself and others, that his first encounter on the other side was in this reality of hatred he had chosen. But again, this is nothing for us to be afraid of, because the minute he chose to cry out to Love, to God, the tormenting creatures had to leave.
So to me, this story is a beautiful confirmation that what we believe about Jesus and God, really does not determine anything in our experience of reality when we die. The determination of our experience, both now and in the next moment, comes down to LOVE. Are we letting ourselves shine with goodness and love to the world, which is our true essence, or are we deliberately cutting ourselves off from God (Love), thereby by dividing ourselves against each other?
In this other realm of light and love, Howard Storm asked the Loving Beings a LOT of questions, and their answers are fascinating.
Here’s one excerpt:
I asked them, for example, which was the best religion. I was looking for an answer which was like, “Presbyterians.” I figured these guys were all Christians. The answer I got was,
“The best religion is the religion that brings you closest to God.”
Howard Storm became a Christian pastor after returning to his earthly life. And yet, it was very clear to him, after his experience with Love, that God is bigger than any religion.
I highly recommend this book, if you are interested in what happens when we die – it’s life-changing and you won’t be able to put it down!