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A Funeral and the book of Revelation

I was taught by inference to fear both death and the book of Revelation.

It was a sad time. My colleague had just announced the funeral services for her two only children that were killed in a car crash on the way home from an extended weekend. I made arrangements to fly to the services after work. It had been a long day. I was tying up all the loose ends I could knowing I would be gone for a couple of days. My mind was tangled up in what I know now was a theodicy conundrum.

I sat on the plane, Bible in hand, determined to face my fears in a new way. I had been in deep prayer for my colleague and her family. But I felt somewhat disconnected from God. So while I was in the air, I decided to read Revelation. What better way to confront my fears than while physically being as close to God as I could imagine. Was I challenging what I knew? Maybe. But I wanted answers that ignorance couldn’t give me. And so I read.

The turbulence couldn’t have been worse or more ill-timed. It felt like the plane was going to fall out of the sky; my stomach dropping toward my knees the way it did when I rode rollercoasters as a kid. But I wouldn’t stop reading and in my arrogance I think I even chided the evil spirits that they could not deter me. And when the reading was done and I realized I had been lied to over the years, I began to pray.

My prayers were for wisdom and solace, for repentance and reconciliation – prayers of gratitude and intercession…prayers for ways to be obedient and lights to make the path more clear.

I arrived at the airport thankful and confident that my faith was still intact. But it was still a sad time. It was late and I got the last taxi out. As I entered the lobby of the hotel, I was greeted by name. Even though there was a logical reason for that, it felt divinely inspired somehow – like God was telling me I was being watched. (But in a good way.) As I checked in, I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I asked if there was any food available. “There’s a vending machine next to your room.” Great!

When I got to my room, I emptied my wallet of its money. So going to the ATM was something else I didn’t have time to do that day. I took what I had and went to the machine. I located a can of grape juice and a bag of Cheezits. (Which never dawned on me until just now that it was a communion meal – the juice and “jesus” – if you say cheezits real fast you’ll get it.) Anyway, I added up the price of the two items and I didn’t have enough money. I was a nickel short. FIVE cents short. I stood there looking up to heaven – past the real world matter of plaster and paint, exasperated, hungry, and tired. I remember saying, “God, I’ve been with you all day. You know what I’ve been struggling with on the plane. I’ve been praying and stretched beyond what is usual for me. And you’ve been there. Is there any way you could find me a nickel? All I want is a nickel!!!” I let out a deep sigh and looked into my wallet again. Why did I think there was anything else in there? I know I had already looked in the nooks and crannies. But I looked anyway. Why not?

And there it was – right in plain sight. A dime! I know it wasn’t there before. “Thank you, God!!!” It really was like they said. “Ask and you shall receive.” As I put the coins in the machine and retrieved the juice can, I felt overwhelmed by God’s favor for even such a small thing as this. Now the coins went in for the crackers. When I got down to the last dime, I looked up expecting to see the display that counted down the necessary funds to read .05. Instead I saw .10. It seems I needed a dime. I NEEDED A DIME – but I told God that all I wanted was a nickel.

Sometimes the things we want aren’t the things we need.

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