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Ian McCormick had always felt at home in the depths of the ocean, reveling in the mysteries and majesty of the deep. But one day, the lurking power of the sea literally took him by the arm. And reckoning with the forces of nature became a struggle for life.
"As I dived in the water, something smashed into my forearm. It felt like thousands of volts of electricity. My whole arm was swollen double its normal size. My arm was blistered where the tentacles had hit me, like burn blisters, and I could feel the toxin quickly moving up my bloodstream into my lymph glands," says McCormick. Generally competent in the water, this fateful day, McCormick had brushed up against a deadly, yet largely unknown sea creature -- the box jellyfish -- that can kill a man in four minutes.
Ian was not just physically unprepared for the attack; he was also spiritually unprepared for his impending doom. He was a self-proclaimed hedonist and atheist. He partied and womanized. But as his strength was sapped from the five stings he received, he was forced to confront those life issues head on.
A man and his son rescued McCormick from the water, but soon left his side claiming to get help. Alone and tired, McCormick heard a voice that said, "Son, if you close your eyes, you shall never awake again." Struggling to stay conscious, McCormick tried to get assistance on his own. Hope appeared in the form of a taxicab. But then the unthinkable happened. Convinced that his passenger was no longer a good fare, the cab driver ditched McCormick near a hotel to die. A hotel security guard called for an ambulance, but McCormick sensed it was too late.
"My entire forearm and face began to contort. My teeth started smashing into each other. I knew what was happening. I'm now going into what you call the death rattles," recounts McCormick. He began to question what would happen to him if he did die. Immediately, Ian saw his mother's face and she said, "Son, no matter how far from God you are, if you will but call out to Him from your heart, God will hear you." Ian responded with a prayer asking God to teach him to pray. As McCormick was reminded of his sins, he asked God to forgive him for what he had done.
Then God asked him to forgive those who sinned against him. "The voice said, 'Will you forgive this man for pushing you out of his taxi and leaving you to die on the side of the road?' My first thought was revenge and payback," says McCormick. But Ian realized that if he did not forgive others, he knew his prayers would remain unanswered. Ian recalls the entire Lord's Prayer flashing through his mind. For once in his life, he prayed the prayer and understood what it meant. "I'd made peace with Almighty God," recalls McCormick.
As the hospital staff poked and prodded to keep the convulsing patient alive, Ian felt himself drifting away to another place, a place that Ian believes was hell. "As I stood there, a radiating shaft of pure white light pierced through the darkness above me. This light seemed to be drawing me up into it. I began to weep, and I said, 'Oh, God, you can't love me. I've cursed you.'" But the love kept coming and Ian could feel his broken heart being healed by this light. Ian remembers God asking him whether he wanted to return or stay. Ian at first wanted to stay in God's presence, but as he considered his devoted mother, he decided to return. He also asked God to completely heal him.
Ian returned back into his physical form. Once clinically dead, Ian was now very much alive in the presence of doctors who were understandably amazed. Ian recalls feeling a wave of warm power flowing through his body. Within four hours, God healed him and he was able to discharge himself from the hospital the next day.
Shortly after, Ian started to see things in the spiritual realm. Questioning these visions, he asked God for understanding. God simply told him he was now a reborn Christian.
Ian now travels telling others about the God that saved him from the pit of hell and gave him a brand-new life. "You know, you look for peace in different avenues, travel and sports and anything to find peace -- alcohol, relationships. This peace saturated me and this peace hasn't ever left me, because this peace is not of this world. I believe in the healing resurrection power of Almighty God. I believe He still moves in that same dimension today," he says.
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