There are many things to love about life. I guess my favorite is how it interrupts the mundane and regular with a surprise that will change everything, at least for a while. Last week I met the death angel. And I haven't been able to put what happened out of my mind since then.
gym to workout like I do most afternoons when I came upon a major intersection. There was a white van that belonged to a plumbing or A/C business sitting at a red light. Behind it was a car full of teenage girls. To the left of it was a truck with a Hispanic man in his 40s, and behind him was a black woman who was a nurse. The driver of the van opened his door at the light and got out, and fell to the pavement. At first I thought he had dropped something out of his window and was retrieving it. Then he laid down on the pavement. My second thought was that he heard some type of strange noise emanating from under the van, and that he went down to take a look. It was at that exact moment that a kind of a chill came over me and goosebumps raised on my forearms. I immediately knew that the man was dying. I pulled over, parked, and got out of my car. I ran to the spot, weaving around the cars full of annoyed people that nobody was moving. By that time the Hispanic man was straddling him and beating on his chest. The girls had gotten out of their car and were standing there just looking at him. The nurse was on her knees, had his wrist and was looking for a pulse. She touched the side of his neck. I had a chance to get a good look at the man lying on the street. He was probably in his late 40's, dressed like a blue collar worker, was overweight, and lied there motionless. His only movements were from the CPR being performed. Then something strange happened.
The nurse dropped his wrist and said to us that he was dead. The man performing CPR refused to quit until the ambulance arrived. She said that it was of no use. But he just continued pinching his nose, blowing in his mouth, then beating on his chest. And a thought instantly wafted through my mind that I had dreamed and prayed about for years. I thought, “I am going to lay hands on that man, pray, and bring him back from the dead”. Jesus did it. And Jesus said that the things he did shall we do also, and greater things that that. Strangely, there was absolutely no check in my spirit, no thought of unreasonableness in my mind, nor fear of what the others might think as I lay hands on this man and he comes to his feet. I was ready, willing, and able to perform a bona fide miracle, just like the kind you read about in the Bible. I could see myself looking up to heaven, and saying something like “In the name of Jesus, rise and walk”. I'm not sure whether I took a step towards that man or not. But I do know that the next thing that happened is hard to put into words. The most intense fear I have felt in a very long time seemed to step right up to me and block me. Although I could see nothing, there was definitely something or someone there. And I found myself completely paralyzed. So I just stood there, like a dog who had been told to “stay”. And I did nothing.
I was amazed at how fast the ambulance came screaming in. There was also a policeman who blocked the street. The paramedics took one look at the man and knew that it was too late. They didn't break out the defibrillator or start beating on his chest. They simply brought out a gurney, and asked for help to lift the portly body onto it. It was clear that this “earth suit” no longer had an inhabitant. And would soon be returned to dust.
Pope's life? Why didn't I raise him from the dead? I bargained with God about how much he would receive glory in a miracle like that. Think about the press: “God Lives...and Still In The Raising From The Dead Business!” What a killer Easter season PR blitz for Jesus that could have been. But the one that haunts me still is: who stepped in front of me that day? Who was this unseen man that carries such power of fear? Was this the man who went through Egypt killing the firstborn? Or was this a loyal servant of Satan there to take this man to a place he really doesn't want to be? I thought about the movie “Ghost” where shadowy figures come out of the ground and take men screaming in fear to the nether world.