The lady pulled out cigarettes and began puffing away. My strong tobacco-smoke aversion launched me back onto my feet. Completely unaware of her offense, the woman stared absently ahead as the area became completely engulfed in an acrid cloud. Moving backwards a few steps… and then a few yards, I couldn’t seem to escape the chocking fumes. My initial thoughts of prayer were overcome by annoyance and revulsion. When my friend arrived, I was more than happy to bolt. The Lord really dealt with me later.
These mess-ups seemed to happen when I felt pressed for time or when the situation was awkward or unpleasant. Thankfully, the day I met Larry there was no deterrents. In fact, it was a perfect scenario - one I had better not miss. Cycling through a south Florida, retirement community I noticed him waving at me from the sidewalk. This cheery fellow was seated on a motorized scooter with an adorable little lapdog.
Pulling over, I exchanged greetings with him while cuddling his wiggly, eight-pound, companion named Ginger. Licking my ear this little sweetheart reminded me of my Yorkie Pooh, Max. This tall, slender man, speaking just above a whisper, said he wanted to tell me a story. Crouching down and leaning in close, I determined to give him my undivided attention.
Thirty-three years ago, he was a lead singer in a rising band. Stardom was a certainty and his life was pretty much perfect. He went in for some minor surgery and there were complications leading to a brain hemorrhage and subsequently a tracheotomy. This damaged his vocal cords, ended his singing career, and landed him in a wheelchair. This tragedy could have made him bitter but there was a sweetness about him that made me exclaim, “God's not done with you yet!” My acknowledgement of the Creator emboldened my new acquaintance to share an even more private story.
Apparently, Larry had a classic NDE - near death experience. His spirit left his body and he could see it lying below him in the hospital room. What ensued next was a supernatural God encounter that changed his life and his heart. Being sent back to his body, Larry determined to make the best of his circumstances. Returning to the talent that served him well in the US Navy, he began playing a trumpet faithfully for his church every Sunday morning. Larry taught this musical instrument to his son who now travels the world playing his horn by invitation. How serendipitous that I meet a trumpeter… having traveled a few places internationally to do a little trumpeting myself... only with a rugged shofar, not a shiny trumpet.
Recognizing that this was most certainly a divine encounter, I gained Larry's permission to pray for the restoration of his voice and mobility. Although we didn’t witness any immediate changes, I believe God will someday resurrect this precious man’s singing abilities like He did his damaged body. Advising him to “Get that voice warmed up!” I sensed this would not be my last interface with Larry. Although he may have been made captive by some physical limitations, Larry's spirit was certainly free as the wind and I was really glad that I stopped long enough to notice.
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, Call upon His name, make known His deeds among the peoples" (1Chronicles 16:8)