Three Bible Verses to Live By

Mary C. Neal’s near-death experience was only the beginning. How did these three Bible verses help her recover?

Posted in , Jun 21, 2012

Prayer blogger Rick Hamlin

If you could read only three Bible verses, what would they be?

Mary C. Neal shared her extraordinary near-death experience in the mountains of southern Chile with Guideposts. Her kayak was trapped under a waterfall and her soul escaped from her body, flying to heaven’s gate. She survived and returned to her home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where both she and her husband are spinal surgeons. It was there in the hospital that she had another extraordinary experience.

During her recovery, friends from church visited her bedside and brought her some magazines to read. Despite usually having 20/20 vision, she found the pages too blurry to read. She turned on the TV. It was too blurry to see. Even the nurse looked blurry. “Is there a Bible here?” Mary asked. The nurse gave her a Gideon’s Bible.

She looked for some familiar psalms and couldn’t read them. Even her favorite verse of Paul’s, “I can do all thing through him who strengthens me,” was too blurry to read. Frustrated, Mary kept flipping through pages. Only one verse became clear: Rejoice always. (I Thessalonians 5:16)

It seemed a directive from God. She should rejoice in her current situation. We should rejoice always.

Later that day, a second verse also became clear: Pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Of course she would pray. Prayer would be the route to her recovery. She began to see her life and each breath she was given as a prayer to God and a way to pray for others.

Then one last verse became visible: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God’s in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

The rest of the Bible and even faces of people who visited her continued to blur, and she couldn’t read anything except those three verses. She couldn’t watch TV and she didn’t feel like talking to anyone. All she did was read and re-read those three verses and meditate on them.

Mary eventually recovered; you can learn more of her story in this amazing video. But I keep thinking of the gift in her story about the three verses. What Bible verses are most essential for life? If I had to choose only three, I would be hard-pressed to do worse than what the Lord gave Mary Neal those days in the hospital. She couldn’t see clearly in many ways, but in this one way she had perfect sight.

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