In 1989, Don Piper died and went to heaven. In 2004, he wrote a book about it. The book is a Christian living book called 90 Minutes in Heaven and gives an account of what he experienced. Piper also discusses his recovery over the next few years and the issues he faced.
My husband and I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Piper speak at a writing conference in Marshall, Texas. He gave a lecture on the experience he had with writing 90 Minutes in Heaven. I really enjoyed his speaking style which was humorous and laid back. His wife was there, and he spoke lovingly to her and about her. All-in-all, he seemed like a very genuine and intelligent man. After the lecture, I immediately went to the book store and picked up a copy.
I wasn’t disappointed by the book. The first three chapters really draw you in. Chapter One describes the car accident. The next two chapters give a beautiful description of what Mr. Piper experienced in Heaven. The remaining 15 chapters cover his recovery and what his life has been like since the accident.
Don Piper discusses several revelations he had from this experience. Many of those revelations were brought on by his fellow Christians sharing truths that hit him in powerful ways. One of those times stuck out to me. It was in Chapter 12 “Opening Up”. He tells of the first time he opened up about his experience in heaven. He gave his friend a list of reasons that he didn’t want to share it with anyone else. His friend pointed out, “Don’t you realize what a powerful encouragement you can be to others?” (Piper 126).
Just as that realization made a profound impact on Don Piper, it hit home with me, as well. Though my struggles are nowhere near as debilitating as Mr. Piper’s, I tend to get caught up in self-pity when bad things happen to me. It is hard to think of our struggles as a way to bring hope to other people.
From that point on, the stories Don Piper described in his book were more focused on the encouragement his experienced allowed him to give to others. Part of his recovery was wearing a fairly new device that caused immense pain. It was meant to save his leg, but the outcome would be uncertain. He didn’t know how long he would wear it or if it would even work. He was able to empathize with other patients with the same condition and lift their spirits. Just showing them that he went through the pain and was now able to walk was an inspiration to many patients and their caretakers.
90 Minutes in Heaven is a book about hope. Don Piper’s story is one that I won’t soon forget when I am facing hard situations. This book is considered a religious book, but the message of hope spans across beliefs. I would recommend this book to anyone going through a dark point in their life.
Piper, Don. 90 Minutes in Heaven. Grand Rapides, MI: Revell, 2004. Print