In Part 2, I learned to allow myself to relax, to get quiet and let go of stress. I was learning to sail. I invited God to reveal Himself to me and open my heart to His presence. I was becoming more focused and aware of Him.
God continues to surprise
God is always filled with surprises. For those of you who are skeptical, remember, we did not beforehand know which exit to take. Without either a global positioning system (GPS) or roadmap, we had to tune into God’s Positioning Spirit to get where we were going.
While I was the one who wanted to get to Sedona to see the various vacation spots, and Peggy more along for the “ride”, God had treats in store for her. After sundown, on our return trip back to our accommodations in Scottsdale, we pulled off for gas at exit 289. Remember? This was the other exit that God dropped in my ear.
Exit 289 conveniently had a Sonic Drive-Thru, Peggy’s favorite place for a peach iced tea with lime wedges. There happened to be a casino at this exit as well. Continuing our adventure of flowing in God, Peggy asked, “Wanna have a little fun with a couple of bucks?” We are not gamblers; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I’d been to a casino. And this was totally out of character for my chaplain wife.
Peggy, a bit unsettled and nervous about entering the gambling hall and feeling a little like Dorothy entering the chamber of the Wizard of Oz, dug her hand into my arm. “Slots, poker, and gambling, Oh My!” “Slots, poker and gambling, Oh My!”
The room was dimly lit and smelled of cigarette smoke. There was a sound of jangly music and the whir of spinning reels accompanied by loud beeps, bells and chimes from the gaming machines as people played their nickels and quarters. It was a cacophony of noises and smells that invaded and offended our senses. As we observed those playing the machines, with cigarettes between their fingers and lips, they seemed to stare mindlessly, without emotion, mesmerized by the brightly lit and colorful gaming monitors. In contrast, we were a breath of fresh air – figuratively, literally and spiritually.
On occasion, there was a happy and celebratory combination of flashing lights and sounds when a machine announced a winning combination. But more often than not, slot machines just took people’s money. Looking at the player’s facial expressions, depression seemed most pervasive amongst those hypnotized by the sounds, entrenched in their addiction to gambling.
Peggy and I were carefree about losing $5 and had resolved to walk away, win or lose. However, we agreed that if we did win, any winnings would go to our church offering.
I didn’t immediately enter into the flow or spontaneously hear from God when Peggy asked me which slot machine we should play. So, in my delay, she randomly picked one and played 4 quarters and lost them all.
This time we re-grouped, huddled, prayed and asked God to pick a machine. The slot machines were all numbered. What number machine do you hear?” Peggy asked. “I don’t know,” and then blurted out “395!” We located machine 395 and agreed to “play another dollar.”
I stood for the first spin, not having fun yet. The machine remained in a quiet state of rest without flashing lights or music as none of the three reels lined up. To win, all three reels must match. “Oh, well.” This time I eased myself into the chair facing the slot machine. “A quarter down and three to go,” I said to Peggy, who was peering over my shoulder. I spun for a second time, and gloriously three reels matched. It was a double payout win! I perked up, having a little fun now. On the third spin, again, “clang, clang, clang, clang!” the machine happily announced. We just won another double payout! The happy clanging noise and flashing lights again lifted my spirits. Peggy was doing the “Happy Dance.” We now had one more spin remaining. On our last spin, the machine went quiet again, but I was on a winning streak. All in all, the machine returned $5.00 for our one dollar. “That was fun!” I boyishly exclaimed. Peggy got the distinct impression from my jubilation that I was connecting with God. This was now just me and Papa time. Clearly, God the Father was wanting to show me personally a fun time, something which had been cut short in my life having lost my dad at age 11. He was restoring to me, even in this unlikely place, that which was lost, a part of my broken heart.
The joy and smile on my face spoke volumes. I was alert and ready this time when she asked, “What machine is God telling you now?” My first spontaneous thought was 350. There were six slot machines numbered 350-1, -2, -3, -4. etc. I faintly heard Papa say “350-3.” I wasn’t sure, but I would go with it. Peggy also heard the number 3. So, we agreed to play another dollar. This time slot machine 350-3 returned a DOUBLE payout, for our 4 spins. The total earnings between the two machines were $9.75. I know you’re probably thinking whoop-de-doo, woo-hoo; but it really was a big deal. Typically, odds are stacked against gamblers in favor of the house winning, but in God’s house, the odds were stacked doubly in our Favor!
Now, don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning gambling. This was an exercise in spontaneous flow, stretching, listening, trusting, pressing in and practicing hearing Papa God, not just on big things, but also the small, even unorthodox things. He was teaching us to listen, to trust, to obey and to have fun.
Our adventures were more than we hoped or imagined, more than a thrill-seeking ride at an amusement park, and to think we can live this adventure daily! He cares for us. So, drop everything and listen to his voice! (Psalm 95:7, TPT). Are you ready to let go and let God? I AM.
by Bill Hutzel & Peggy Castorri-Hutzel
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