Crystal McVea was always a churchgoer, but in her heart, she was never truly convinced of God's existence. That changed after she says she had a near-death experience that brought her face-to-face with her creator.
Credit: Howard Books
In her book, "Waking Up in Heaven," McVea detailed her experience flat-lining as a result of complications from pancreatitis. During doctors' rush to save her, the wife and mother of four says she ascended to heaven, met angels and interacted with God.
McVea, from southwest Oklahoma, knows her story sounds unbelievable, which is why she almost didn't write the book. But in the end, she decided she needed to be heard.
In an interview with TheBlaze, McVea said she was once the biggest skeptic who couldn't rectify the pain and suffering she went through as an abused child with the existence of a supposedly loving God.
But she says her experience in heaven changed all that.
How She Ended Up in Heaven
The former teacher remembers being in the hospital on Dec. 10, 2009. After accidentally overdosing her on pain medication, doctors called a code blue and worked on McVea for seven to nine minutes, all while her mother watched in horror as her daughter lay dying.
"I remember almost every detail. I remember being in the bed. My mother was at my feet and I remember starting to drift off -- and I remember opening my eyes and telling her that I loved her," McVea recalled. "I remember just closing my eyes in that bed and I opened them and I was standing in the most beautiful tunnel of light I could ever describe."
McVea said she instantly knew she was in heaven. The difference within her was noticeably profound. Negative feelings and emotions were gone and she said it was as though all knowledge had been instantly downloaded to her brain.
"On Earth I was chained with human emotions like shame and guilt," she told TheBlaze. "I had an abortion as a teenager. After that abortion I thought, 'I've done it now -- if he was real, he could never love me now.'"
But in heaven those thoughts were suddenly gone. McVea said while she knew she was dead, she was overtaken by a level of happiness she had never felt.
She also soon realized she wasn't alone.
"I had two angels standing to my left whom I recognized as angels immediately ... they took on vaguely human shapes," she said, describing them as emitting an amber light.
She recalls communicating with the angels, but that she didn't need to use words to do so; it was as though they all could telepathically and effortlessly speak with one another.
It didn't take long to realize that there was a third figure nearby. To her right, McVea said she recognized God. After years of lamenting over his existence and wondering why he would have allowed her to suffer through sexual abuse at such a young age, as well as other challenges, she said she instantly fell before him in worship.
"What I saw and felt was just this beautiful, radiant, glowing light. That's the only word I can even think to decide it," she told TheBlaze. "But I was very aware that I was in front of the presence of the one true God. I'm a Christian. I believe it was the presence of the father, and the son and the Holy Spirit."
McVea loved heaven so much in those moments that she had no urge to return to earth. But she says the Almighty gave her a choice.
"In that instance ... God showed me my four children and he told me I could go back and be their mother or I could stay there," she remembered. "For the first time in my life I chose God ... I chose to stay with him. I'm so glad that he allowed me to remember that."
As God, the angels and McVea moved toward the light, she says God told her that the decision was final and once they crossed through she wouldn't be able to go back. At the time, she felt completely comfortable with this choice.
As they continued toward heaven's gate, she said God showed her something she'll never forget: He conjured the image of a little girl laughing and playing -- a child that McVea felt intensely moved by.
"My spirit could not contain all the love I had for her. When I looked back down at her, I recognized her as me," she said.
McVea believes God wanted her to know that he never abandoned her even in her darkest hours, so he showed her herself at the age of 3 -- before sexual abuse forever changed her life. The love McVea felt while looking at herself, she believes, is the same compassion and care God has always had for her. The experience allowed her to see herself through God's eyes and, as a result, healing took place.
As they were approaching the gate at the end of the tunnel, McVea said she suddenly heard her mother scream her name. As a result, she was instantly filled with compassion and asked God if she could return briefly to tell her mother she was OK. God again gave her a choice.
"I just felt such pity (for my mom) and I turned around to find her voice -- and (God) said, 'Tell them what you can remember,'" she recalled, noting that she responded, "I'll remember everything and I'll be right back."
Coming Back From Heaven
McVea suddenly opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by nurses, doctors -- and her grieving mother. As they bombarded her with questions to ensure she was alert, McVea said she kept trying to drift away back to the tunnel, but was unable.
"I felt trapped," she said of her inability to escape back to the afterlife.
Over time, McVea slowly came back into herself, but things had profoundly changed. While she didn't remember all of the details, she said some of what happened in heaven has remained with her.
Today, despite skeptics who doubt the veracity of her story, McVea maintains that everything happened as she described. She told TheBlaze that those minutes during which she was considered physically dead actually account for the time in which she has "been the most alive."
McVea certainly isn't the first person claiming to die and meet God in heaven. These stories about alleged ascension have a way of sparking both debate and questions, and based on the intrigued response from the general public, it's likely we'll be hearing more of them.
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