Don Piper died and went to heaven. Then he came back. The author of the million-copy bestselling book 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN recorded the events surrounding his car accident 15 years ago when he was pronounced dead by EMTs and for 90 minutes was clinically deceased.
Though Piper recounts his experience of being in heaven for that short space of time, he relies on those at the scene of the accident to tell what occurred while he was dead. After paramedics walked away from Piper, a fellow minister felt compelled to stop at the roadside crash. Then he asked to see the body and began praying for Piper, who suddenly stirred to life again. The minister ran to get help, but the EMTs dismissed his claim that Piper was alive. Finally, to assuage him, these professionals checked Piper again and rescue efforts redoubled. So began the long journey, or crossing the bridge, as Piper likes to say, back to earthly existence.
After having endured 34 operations, spending 13 months in the hospital and then two years of rehabilitation, Piper understands physical suffering better than most. He also writes movingly about his other losses: diminished physical abilities, constant pain, inner and outer scars. And yet, Piper focuses on the broader scheme of life. He writes this new text as an encouragement and a challenge to other Christians to face their pain and life disappointments as catalysts for growth and change. Championing the premise that every person makes decisions, great and small, that affect their life and destinies, Piper asks readers to pause and reflect. Beginning with his own story of conversion to Christ, he lays out the gospel message succinctly and then walks interested travelers through life's main juncture points.
Piper discusses happiness and how this term works itself out in a Christian's life; how standing alone for Christ translates into greater intimacy with God; how "getting over it" is sometimes the best advice ever given; and how identifying and embracing "life markers," or those events that drastically change one's life forever, can be opportunities in disguise. He also expounds upon living life in the "new normal" stage, where nothing that was can be revisited. The author invites believers first to release the past and then set goals for the future. He notes that "most of our important beginnings take place in the darkness --- that is, outside our awareness." In other words, Piper asserts that "the most powerful learning take place when we're totally unconscious of it."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Piper likewise encourages Christians to focus on the eternal and live every day to its fullest by learning to laugh, show compassion, give thanks, cultivate contentment and give to others despite one's own sorrows. Readers will empathize with Piper's harrowing ordeal and find him a steady source of good counsel for prevailing over and conquering trials of every shape and size.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on August 7, 2007