This was a strange read. I spotted the book at a local thrift store, and liked its unique cover. The back cover listed the book as “Christian/suspense”. Ok, that’s good, I thought. I won’t have to dodge nasty language or sexual content. But diving into the book, it did not read like any other Christian fiction novel I’d tried.
The main character is Dylan Runs Ahead, a Native American living in Montana. He is ex-military, and has chronic pain in his leg, thanks to a roadside bomb incident. He is addicted to prescription pain killers, and will resort to all sorts of ways to get them. His buddy Webb, who isn’t terribly smart, helps him get what he wants. Then you have the other main character, Quinn, a young woman who cuts herself and shoves metal things like paperclips under her skin. She is an exorcist, and goes around trying to expel demonic viruses from people. She is constantly chasing Dylan. And then there is a commune with a wind turbine farm where life seems idyllic, but of course really isn’t.
The whole book is based around the idea that in the end times, people are falling away from belief in God, which makes the time ripe for the “man of sin” (the Anti-Christ, although that word is not used in the book) to infect the minds of humans and control them. The book spent at least half of the book on Dylan and Webb running around trying to find drugs, Dylan talking to the voice of his dead sister in his head, and Quinn self-mutilating. It was hard to figure out what the plot was, and who was good or bad. It also portrayed the Native Americans living in Montana in a rather negative light. Although it could have been a great novel, God was barely mentioned and the demon/Anti-Christ was portrayed as having all the power. This is a rather poor book about spiritual warfare.
When Don Piper’s car was struck head-on in 1989 with an impact of 110 miles an hour, that should have been the end of his earthly life. And for ninety minutes, his spirit was absent from earth, and present at the gates of heaven. The paramedics declared him dead and covered his lifeless body with a tarp. But one man passing by felt God telling him to pray over Don. For more than an hour, the man prayed and sang hymns. Then the unimaginable happened: Don came back to earth.
Although a sliver of the book is devoted to the attempt to describe heaven, the majority of the book focuses on the unbearable pain and long recovery of Don Piper. It was difficult to read this book, as so many parts reminded me of my son’s accident, recovery, and ongoing pain. The detailed description of the fixator Don wore for many months was especially familiar.
Some people who read this biography will say it’s proof of the power of the human spirit. But I say: it is a testimony to the power of God to bring life out of death. This book is one that everyone who battles pain – or has someone in their life battling chronic pain – should read.
Excerpt from page 73:
I was in Hermann ICU for twelve days. Then I stayed four to five days in Hermann Hospital before they transferred me down the street to St. Luke’s Hospital. Both hospitals are part of the world’s largest medical center. I remained in St. Luke’s for 105 days. Once I was home, I lay in bed for thirteen months and endure thirty-four surgeries. Without question, I am still alive because people prayed for me, beginning with Dick Onetecker and other people around the country, many of whom I’ve never met.
Excerpt from page 83:
At night they gave me additional medication to try to make me sleep. I write “try” because the additional medicine didn’t work. Nothing they did put me to sleep – not sleeping pills, pain shots, or additional morphine. I had no way to get comfortable or even to feel relieved enough from pain to relax.
I’ve tried to explain it by saying it this way: “Imagine yourself lying in bed, and you’ve got rods through your arms, wires through your legs, and you’re on your back. You can’t turn over. In fact, just to move your shoulder a quarter of an inch is impossible unless you reach up and grab what looks like a trapeze bar that hangs above your bed. Even the exertion to move a fraction of an inch sends daggers of pain all through your body. You are completely immobile.”