Of all the cabbies…


What’s that line from the Humphrey Bogart movie? Most of us know the most famous one, “Play it again, Sam,” although that’s not exactly the line, if you watch the movie. But I’m thinking of another line from that same movie when Bogart says, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” Well, my cab driver might have been saying the same thing…“Of all the cabs, in all of Las Vegas, she had to get into mine.” (Taken from the movie, “Casablanca.”)

I arrived in Las Vegas to spend the week with my parents, and since they drive a small RV, it was best that I take a cab from the airport to meet them at a near-by Hotel/Casino. To do so, I exited the airport, and entered into a line for a cab like I have never seen before! It was like a line at Disneyland to ride the most popular ride there! It snaked back and forth about four times, and it was LONG in each direction. I wondered just how long it would take to get a cab, but the system worked great. We just kept walking forward as the man at the front of the line instructed us on which station to go and stand by, to wait for a cab. There must have been 20 or more stations, and I believe I was sent to station number 17.

The cabs continually pull in, pick up passengers, and pull out, usually headed to the strip with their passengers. My ride was a bit shorter than most, but that doesn’t keep God from doing His thing…yes, even in the city of Las Vegas, or especially in the city of Las Vegas, I might say! God was all over this particular match-up!!

Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.
Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.
Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)

Like any good cabby, the driver loaded my luggage into the trunk, and I got into the back seat of the car. As we headed off, he made conversation by asking me what it is that I do? Normally, I don’t really know how to answer that since I’m no longer raising children, and I don’t work at an official job, and I can’t even say I’m a homemaker while living in an RV because most of those jobs are kept to a minimum. I like to think I’m a writer—but can I be called a writer, I mean “officially,” when I’ve never been “officially” published? But, on this day, I answered the cabby’s question without hesitation:

Cabby: What do you do?
Me: I’m a writer.
Cabby: Oh really, what sort of things do you write?
Me: Well, I write messages of hope and encouragement for those going through difficult times in their lives.
Cabby: What got you started doing that?
Me: Our son died five years ago from Leukemia, and God has done a tremendous healing in my heart through that.
Cabby: ….a bit of a pause.
              My girlfriend died from Leukemia when she was eleven. We lived across the street from each other and we did our homework together, etc…
Me: How long was she sick?
Cabby: I don’t really know. It was just like one day she was there, and the next she was gone.

Our conversation continued on as we passed the Hofbrauhaus and we talked of German beers, since I have lived in Germany. My driver said his belly was from cola; it was not a beer belly. But then he went on to tell me:

Cabby: I did smoke for 15 years. Can you believe it? After my friend died of cancer? I finally just gave it up. Didn’t need it anymore.
Me: It’s good to know she’s in Heaven. All children go to Heaven, but as adults, we have a choice to make…have you made that choice?
Cabby: Ahhh, I’ve done lots of bad things.
Me: We all do bad things. We don’t get to Heaven by being good; we get there through Christ…A lot of people think when you’re a Christian, it’s not much fun because you have to give up so many things. The truth is, if God wants you to give up something, He’ll let you know. Most times He just takes your desire away for it, just like when you didn’t feel like smoking anymore.

We talked on about a little of this, and a little of that, and then we got to where my parents were and we were done. I looked for his name posted up front, but didn’t see it, so I never knew my cabby’s name, but as I counted out his fee and tip, I felt God prompting me to be a little more generous than I normally would on the tip, so I handed him the fare knowing he wouldn’t be driving away thinking how Christians are such tightwads!! HA

I don’t know what God was doing on this day in this man’s heart, but I do know that of all the cabbies in all of Las Vegas, he was to be mine. I do know that God planted some seeds in his heart on that day, and I can trust that God will bring someone else along to water them, and God will be the One to make them grow.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it,
but it was God who made it grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT)

I also know that I grew on that day, because I found that in knowing God as my Friend, it was so easy to share of His Good News! Maybe one day, I’ll meet my cabby on the streets of gold and he’ll tell me how God met him on that day, just when he needed it most, and that because his girlfriend died from a horrible disease at much too young of an age, his life was changed for the better because God intervened many years later, into the heartache that he still had, and showed him what a healing God He was!

I can’t know the ending of this story on this day, but I can know the joy of serving the Lord in a way that I never would have thought possible in my life. Last week, I would have told you that I don’t have the gift of evangelism. I don’t walk up to perfect strangers and tell them about who Jesus Christ is. I don’t knock on doors; it’s not my thing. I don’t know how to do what some are so very good at…and then God intervened and showed me that He is God and I am not, and if He wants me to speak of Him to perfect strangers in the city of Las Vegas, of all places, His Will will be done, with amazing ease and in very short order!

Why do we complicate this?
Why do we make it so very difficult?
Why are we so scared?

What we should be scared of are that people are going to Hell! That’s what unbelievers should be scared of, not the believers that are trying to the share the Good News with them! But, for the most part, we don’t think about our eternal future. We barely take the time to think about Heaven, and the eternal awesomeness of it!! So, why would we even begin to think about Hell, and the eternal horridness of it! I didn’t even know that was a word, but it didn’t come up to check the spelling!

After this experience with the cabby, a couple of my friends then shared with me of their trip out fishing one day. It was a birthday celebration, and a boat had been rented, with a driver, so they could enjoy some time on the river. What they ended up fishing for that day was the driver. He was a preacher’s son; he had strayed far from his upbringing and was just beginning to turn back in God’s direction. What he needed was a day with some believers, uninterrupted, as they fished and talked with him about the things of God. The seeds had been planted years ago by his parents, now they just needed a little watering…so God brought these believers along to talk with him for a while. They left this driver encouraged on this day—helping him to know that in turning back to God and looking for His guidance in life, he was headed in the right direction.

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone
who believes—Jews first and also Gentiles. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.
Romans 1:16-17 (NLT)

We search in our lives for something more, and many times in that search, we find Jesus Christ. We discover the Truth of God’s Word; we find out about how Jesus died for us, how our sins are forgiven, and that by confessing with our mouth and believing in our hearts that Jesus is Lord, we can be saved!

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NLT)

This is really Good News! This is what we want to be sharing with others! Who doesn’t want to be saved from so many things—and to live eternally with God? Amen to that, many of us say…and then we forget…we forget to embrace the eternal awesomeness we’ve been given. We don’t want to really think about it, because if we do, we’ll have to think about our own mortality, and that scares us, so we don’t. And then, we get trapped, right where the enemy wants to keep us, we continue to fear dying, or we fear the sickness or an accident that might lead to death. We think if we don’t think about it, maybe it won’t happen…

Who do we think we’re fooling? Certainly, not the devil, because he knows it’s coming. Certainly, not God, because He even knows the day. We’re only fooling ourselves, like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, thinking the sun isn’t shining, or the darkness hasn’t come, because he can’t see it.

Why do we search for Jesus, invite Him into our lives, accept His gift of eternity, and then go on as if nothing at all has happened to change our eternal future? We should be rejoicing, but too many of us are still listening to the lies of the enemy when we should be eye-ball deep in the Word of God! The Hope of God! The Promises of God!

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace
and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17 (NLT)

We are to live “in triumph” through the power of Jesus Christ! We can look sin squarely in the face! We can look death squarely in the face! And we can say, “You have no power over me!” Will we still die? Will we still sin? You bet we will! But that does not negate the power of Jesus Christ; it just speaks of our weakness in the human bodies that we live in.

We will sin, because we will not always be focused on the will of God 100% of the time. Our goal is to increase that focus, that percentage of time when God is of utmost importance each day we live until we meet our Maker face-to-face, and receive His forgiveness in full for all the ways in which we have fallen short.

We will still die because of Adam’s sin, but we will live eternally because of Jesus Christ in the new bodies we will be given in Heaven. Our goal is to focus on the eternity we have been given, further removing ourselves each day from this world we live in, but are not of.

For this world is not our permanent home;
we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

This is not to say we are not to live full, active, meaningful lives here…quite the opposite. When our focus is on the eternity that awaits us, on our permanent home in Heaven, life here is richer, more meaningful, more fulfilling and holds more activities than we could have ever imagined before God became our reason for living! There is nothing boring about daily walking with God! It becomes a supernatural life, compared to a life that becomes tedious, boring, lifeless, and meaningless because we are alive but living disconnected from our source of power, from the Living Vine that nourishes our spirit and soul from deep within.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 (NLT)

Being in Las Vegas for about a week, let’s just say, one can be surrounded with things that are not near and dear to the heart of our Father. The focus of many in that city strays far from eternal priorities and quite easily to worldly treasures and how to quickly obtain them. On my first full day there, it seemed God was further away from me than I am comfortable with. I knew He had not moved an inch, but I was out of my normal routine, and it seemed when I turned my thoughts to Him, He was distant. I didn’t like it, and I made a point to make sure I had time with Him each day, one-on-one, so that distance would not grow into a widening gap that would soon look like the Grand Canyon and seem unable to be crossed over by the time I left for home.

The enemy knows. He knows when we’re in foreign territory and easy prey to his tactics. He knows just what to use to distract us, to call our attention away from what’s most important. He is out to kill, steal, and destroy as quickly as possible all that God has done, if we will let him…but it really is our choice. We don’t have to let him!

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
1 John 4:4 (NLT)

Yes, even in the city of Las Vegas, God is greater! His light is brighter than any darkness that can surround us! His light is brighter than any display of lights that Vegas can offer a vacationer on the strip! God’s light shines all around us, if we are aware of His presence, and sometimes, even when we are not!

I dropped a few pennies in the city of sin…I left them with about a dollar of my money. They won’t be building any casinos named after me, that’s for sure, but the dollar amount is not what really matters here, it’s the focus. It’s not that it’s not fun, because it surely can be. There’s a reason that Las Vegas is one of the top vacation spots in the world! In the past, I loved to play the craps table. Yes, I was a Christian then, and no, it didn’t seem all that wrong. God hadn’t yet taken away my desire for such activities. But times have changed, my focus has changed, and the thrills the craps table used to offer me, now dim in comparison to the life that God is calling me to. I am more acutely aware now of God’s presence and His Will for the lives of His children. I know that whatever the game, whatever the amount, it’s more about the heart than the activity. Because my focus in my early walk with God was not so intimate, I didn’t notice quite as much how quickly the heart can begin to switch gears away from the things of God. As the mind gets sucked into thinking that next roll of the dice just might be “the one,” our eternal focus can go right out the window. If only for a short time, it’s still worth taking note of. Why? Because, it’s not where our mind should be. It’s not where the desires of our heart should be. These can be wasted minutes of the precious life God has given us to live. What if they were our last minutes on this earth, before meeting our Savior face to face? Is that what we would want to be doing when Jesus comes back? I sincerely doubt it!

Oh sure, it’s just a form of entertainment, and so are video games, and the TV, and computers, and board games, and ball games, and shopping, and you name it…none of it is evil in itself, as long as our priorities are where they should be. If we have three hours to spend on TV, or the ball game, or shopping, we should take a look at how much time we’ve given God on that same day. He should be at the top of our list of things to do!

“The world’s artificial pleasures are all but evidence that the human race has to a large extent lost its power to enjoy the true pleasures of life and is forced to substitute for them false and degrading thrills.” (A.W. Tozer)

Now, there is a line that we can cross with some things in life that we know are not good for us, and if we want to live a holy life, we know partaking in those things is not exactly the way to bring God glory…but for most of us, we don’t go there. For most of us, we don’t spend our time doing things that are evil, or wrong, or illegal, or any such thing…and why is that? Why do we try and stay away from evil things, even as unbelievers? Because we don’t want to go to Hell! A Christian’s heart is slowly being transformed over time to bear the image of Christ, and we eventually lose interest in the things of this world—and a nonbeliever thinks that by being good, they are making some headway towards a better life, maybe even Heaven. If presented with the question, Heaven or Hell, who wouldn’t want to end up in Heaven? This brings us back to not only embracing the Good News in our own lives, but sharing it with others as well - sharing it with those who don’t understand, that “being good” is not the way to get into the Kingdom of God. Knowing Jesus, and focusing on the “true pleasures of life,” is where it’s at!

When we embrace Heaven without fear, through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can live fully knowing that God is in control. And, when we face the realities of Hell, the call to evangelize grows immensely. When we think of those we love, or even just like, or maybe don’t even like but we have a heart for them because God has a heart for them, we can’t let them go to Hell for eternity if we have anything to say about it. The fires of Hell can spark something in the children of God, to warn the lost children in the world of its dangers. Hell is not to be toyed with!

Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
Romans 1:5 (NLT)

I have friends, and I have family also, that do not believe. They see no need for a Savior. They don’t really want to hear about God from me, or anyone else. They live each day in a spiritual darkness, but most of them have a pretty good life on this earth. Many are successful. Many have homes, children, good health, and everything that this world offers. They are reasonably happy, well adjusted, and have their plans for what they want out of life. There’s seems to be nothing more they need…but, we’re talking about life here on earth, and if we’re thinking at all, we have to know, it will come to an end one day. Looking back, is there anyone who got out of here alive? Okay, Enoch, but God took him. He was a special case. Even Jesus had to die first, then rise on the third day and then ascend into Heaven from which He came. If we think we’ll be an exception like Enoch, it better be because our faith in God is so strong, our walk with God is so close, He personally told us it will be that way!

When I think of my friends and family living each day without God, it’s tolerable. I mean, I know they’re missing out on the fullness of the power of God that indwells a believer’s heart, but it’s not making them completely miserable. In fact, I know some Christians who might be even more miserable than some of my unbelieving friends and family. So, what’s the problem? The problem is, Heaven and Hell. Both places exist and are waiting for new arrivals each day. I don’t want my family and friends, and even those outside of those two groups, to end up suffering for eternity! It’s just beyond my comprehension that anyone would have to endure Hell forever. I can’t fathom it. My mind can’t wrap itself around such torment that lasts that long …and yet it doesn’t make it any less true—it’s not going to be a party. A.W. Tozer writes, “We love to think that hell will be easier to bear from the fact of our having gone there in defiance of some power that sought to rule us.” Interesting thought…

Our son got a glimpse of Heaven before he left this earth. He saw just a bit, and came back and was angry that he could not stay in Heaven just yet. He was able to leave for Heaven, and stay, just two days later, but what God left me with in my sorrow was the gift of Phil’s glimpse of Heaven. I had the assurance of knowing that Heaven was there waiting for our son, and that he was going to love it, because he told me about it! If there has been nothing else that I could cling to in my days of darkest grief, it was that gift. But, along with that gift of Heaven, was the reality of Hell. The Bible speaks of both, so I know I must embrace both.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.
Matthew 7:13 (NLT)

It is a choice, just as I told my cabby on the short trip I made with him. I told him his little childhood friend lives in heaven because our Father embraces all children when they leave this earth. As adults, we must choose the narrow gate or the highway to hell. That’s why God placed me at station number 17 that day at the airport in Las Vegas. That’s why God brought that cab to my station. That’s why He prompted the question from my cabby and then had me easily answer that I was a writer—because God wants that none should perish! He will not give up on anyone until that choice is made. He will bring whomever it takes, into whatever life is at stake; to get His message across—God wants everyone to know that there is Good News to be had in this fallen world because He loves us that much! But then, God will leave it up to us to decide where we’re going, Heaven or Hell, it is our choice.

By embracing the blessings of Heaven, we will live more fully each day.
By understanding the reality of Hell, we won’t let God’s Good News go unheard.

God Bless,