Journey toward Eternal Life—Alaska Style!
Among the Hair, Hide, Guts, and Feathers
Perfect Bound Softcover
For Erwin Hertz, there are two outstanding four-letter words that direct each and every day of his existence. The first word is life—a word that helps him remember to be thankful for every single day that the sun comes up and for every single day he gets up. The second word is amen, a beautiful four-letter word that he says frequently throughout each day of his life.
Saying yes to life and amen—and everything in between—is the essence of Hertz’s memoir, Journey toward Eternal Life—Alaska Style. Miracles can happen to ordinary people, even those who feel they are undeserving of God’s love and grace. His are not your typical Christian stories, nor is he a stereotypical Christian. Erwin Hertz Sr. knows he’s alive today because his guardian angel worked overtime. He recalls a primitive farm life in Montana, his time in the US Navy, and then his move north to Alaska, describing the adventurous and amazing journey of one man who fully receives and acts on what God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit freely provide.
He is an electrician by trade, strong physically and spiritually, yet a humble prayer warrior—a “Christian solder with rusty armor.” His life story is authentic; his relationship with God is real.
Health Nut and Horse Pills
“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
May, 2004—Life events shake up the ordinary days to help us see evidence of God and his amazing acts of grace. –Erwin Hertz
God saved my hide on an ordinary day.
“Hertz, do you want to go to Mother’s Day dinner at the Halsingland Hotel after church?” asked David Swift. He, his wife, Donna, and their daughter, Mattie, were currently living in the upstairs of my house, and going to dinner with them sounded good to me.
“Sure. I get out of church about a half hour before you, so just come by and pick me up.”
I went to church, and when I got home I was feeling a little croupy and congested, so I took one of the big horse pills that Harriet Stall, who is a health nut like me, had given me. These pills always gave me a boost because they had a lot of Vitamin C and other good stuff in them. I knew they were gigantic, I’d taken them before. I didn’t even think about breaking it up this time, since I’d never had a problem swallowing them.
Without a thought, I popped one in my mouth, took a drink of water, and it immediately got stuck in my throat. My throat was kind of sore already, and it firmly lodged in the area of my Adam’s apple. I drank some more water and it wouldn’t go down. It wouldn’t budge. I could feel my throat swelling around it. Then I drank some flax seed oil that I had in the refrigerator, and it still wouldn’t go down.
The predicament I was in, started to sink in after a couple of minutes. I thought, maybe I should call the fire department. I had retired as a volunteer fireman after 27 years. I would have called, but I couldn’t talk. (Not up on technology, so I didn’t know they would see my phone number.)
What can I do? I figured I had to do something. I thought about getting out of the house. Maybe I should go lay down in the road where somebody could see me. At least they would stop, but I couldn’t tell them what was wrong even if they did. That didn’t seem too smart because I was definitely running out of time. Even though there were a few houses on my road, nobody was driving around at ten o’clock on this quiet Sunday morning. People on my street were still asleep. The clinic in Haines was closed on Sundays, and there wasn’t enough time to drive there anyway. I already knew I couldn’t talk, but suddenly I felt myself not being able to breathe! Logic told me I was out of breath, out of time, out of options!
Strangely calm, I decided to go out and lay down in the carport, where David and Donna could see me when they came back to the house. My carport was only 25 feet from the road, but with no one living straight across from my house, only a field of trees, no one else would see me.
I accepted what was happening—I was going to die. I could not breathe and knew I was close to being done! At least David and Donna would find me when they came home. Good for me, I suppose not so good for them!
I walked out to lie down in the carport. It was May and about 40 degrees. I’d said my prayers and written in my prayer book that morning. I remembered, very clearly, a verse in the book of Psalms that I’m always encouraging other people with. It came to me. God said, “Call on me in your day of trouble; I shall deliver you.” Psalm: 50:15.
And God’s word tells us, people won’t receive if they don’t ask. (John: 14:13) I went to the carport to lie down. It would soon be over. As I went down on one knee, the ice cold of the cement penetrated. I was conscious of wanting to lie down, and of my prayers spoken to God earlier in the morning. I couldn’t speak any words to God out loud, but they were in my heart.
From deep within me, my thoughts cried out, Lord, Jesus please save me! That’s all. I was still down on one knee, and that big ol’ horse pill was still firmly stuck in my swollen throat. It felt hard, and didn’t move in the least. It was there to stay. Within seconds of my plea to God, I suddenly felt something in my mouth—it was the pill. I hadn’t moved, or been jarred, or done anything, but there it was, in my mouth. Opening my mouth, it fell right out in my hand; it was still as big and solid as when I first swallowed it—four or five minutes ago.
I spit it out and threw it across the road. “Wow! … Wow!” I felt stunned, trying to comprehend what had happened. I’d spent those few minutes with that pill slowly draining the life from me. My throat hurt more, and especially where the pill had stuck it was sore and raw, but I was alive! Alive!
I went back in the house in awe of the fact that scripture had come true that very moment in my life. It was a miracle, and I don’t say that lightly—without question it happened to me.
I had asked. I was alive—only because I had asked God, asked Jesus, to save me! I was breathing normally again, and I was a happy, happy camper, who was on a complete spiritual high. I wanted to stay in the presence of the Lord, and never leave it. Shortly after that, Dave and Donna drove in. I told them what had happened and they were in shock … and I was too! (chuckle of relief)
“I’m not going to go and eat with you. I feel so great that the pill is out of my throat and that I am alive.” I encouraged them to go and enjoy themselves, and reassured them that I was fine.
The peace I felt was amazing—I was so grateful to be alive! It was an absolutely fantastic feeling. To this day it is hard to describe. They went on, and I stayed home all that day, kind of floating through the whole day trying to comprehend God’s act of grace upon me. I was so happy. I felt such joy—the presence of God, the Holy Spirit was with me in my house. There was a peace beyond my own understanding, and an incredibly personal time with God that I will never forget. Fantastic!
I didn’t tell others what had happened; only Dave and Donna knew. I don’t remember if I ate or drank anything before I went to bed that evening. I felt tired, and called it a night early, about 7 p.m., rather than my usual 10 or 11 p.m. While still awake in bed, the immense feeling of peace remained. I knew I was experiencing a spiritual reality—one of a living God, that is beautiful, secure, and often impossible to explain in words.
I conked out, and when I woke up, I looked at the digital clock on the dresser, and it read 2:30 a.m. Of all things, I looked directly up from my bed, and it appeared that there was no ceiling on the bedroom. Instead, it was as if I was outside, looking into God’s creation and a clear midnight blue night sky filled with bright stars. It was gorgeous, clear and calm. I couldn’t believe God allowed me to experience the wonder of his presence on that so-called ordinary day. It was anything but ordinary!
Abraham Lincoln said, “How can a man see the Heavens, and see the stars and creation, and not believe in God?”
Man, I was so impressed about what God had done for me earlier in the day, and now to gaze into the heavens … I could not believe it. I relaxed, and fell back to sleep in the joy and peace that surrounded me.
I woke up the next morning, still astounded. I headed off to work, but the reality of undeserved grace and the amazing power of God went with me.
The next Sunday when I went to church, I had to share what had happened. I told the congregation about the trauma, and the miracle, of the experience with the ‘horse pill’ and the midnight blue sky of incredible tranquility and beauty that God had shown me in the middle of the night. Helen Strew, a good friend of mine, said, “Yeah Hertz. You take so much stuff that it would be just like you to die taking a vitamin pill!”
Like I said, LIFE (infused with laughter) is a four-letter word that is priceless.
Erwin N. Hertz Sr. was born on a farm in Montana. He is a US Navy veteran who currently lives an adventure-filled life in Haines, Alaska. The father of four, he is a successful business owner and electrician.
What a great read! Amazing miracle he's still alive and well and has lived 3 life times compared to most. Is this going to be a book and TV series? So we can continue enjoying the many wonderous adventures of Mr. Erwin Hertz's Journey toward Eternal Life- Alaska Style. We need more positive, loving, inspirational stories like this with a sense of adventure. God bless Erwin!
Perfect Bound Softcover