Like “Raise the dead.”
They scoff and mock, call you radical and fanatical when you believe such things… until they are desperate, then they come looking for you.
Their beloved Tabitha was dead, so they sent for Peter. “Please come at once!” Acts 9:38
I was in Washington DC, heavy with my first child, real heavy. My father ‘just so happened’ to be staying in Washington on business supposedly, at the Marriott where I normally took up a couch in the lobby before my morning art class. He had recently moved from DC to Palm Beach with his Hollywood diva wife, Mary Costa, an opera legend whose first gig was the voice of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
My dad had called me the night before to tell me he would be there, and to ask if he could be in the delivery room when Courtney was born a couple months later. The call was so strange and flattering because he never called me for anything.
But no, he could not be in the room at her birth.
Hogging my usual lobby couch, I decided I would go up to his room and see if he wanted to get some breakfast. I knocked on the big wooden hotel door and stood there with my big stomach sticking out –almost touching it. And stood.
It was awkward because my dad is easily irritated and I didn’t want to bug him so early, so I went back down to read some more of my Bible.
Again, I went back up the elevator and knocked on his door. Nothing, so I went back down to read some more of my Bible.
Every few minutes I did this.
Finally, I called his room. He answered the phone. “Dad? …Dad?” He didn’t say anything. I called several more times, each time he answered but said nothing. I went back up to his room, knocked on the door and called him, “Dad? Dad!”
Nothing, and then faintly I heard from off to the left of the room in what I thought was the bathroom, a muffled, “Betsy.”
I called on the phone again and he answered with silence. I called again and it was busy. It stayed off the receiver after that. Still not wanting to bother him but worried, I got a maintenance worker to let me in the room next door and get on the balcony where I could peek in. The drapes were closed.
I went back and kept banging on the door. Finally, I got the maintenance guy to open it and break the chain. Timidly, I opened the door. “Dad?”
It was deathly silent.
The bed was to my left where I thought the bathroom was. My father was on his stomach, face down in the mattress. I crept up to him, and poked his arm with my finger.
“Dad?” It was not warm. I picked up an empty prescription bottle from the nightstand where the phone receiver was lying. I didn’t see the note. I knew he was dead. Still, I ran to the room next door and frantically called 911, begging them to hurry. If I had known Peter was in the next town, I would have called him instead.
What did Jesus really mean when he said for us to raise the dead? Did he mean people who are spiritually dead but need the life of Christ? Or when he said to raise the dead, did he actually mean for us to raise dead people?
Jesus raised Jairus’ little girl from the dead, called Lazarus after four days in a tomb and raised a widow’s only son during his funeral procession. Peter, raiser of Tabitha, was just a fisherman with no credentials, no formal training, no seminary and not a respected businessman in the community. A kid who fell asleep during Paul’s sermon and tumbled to the ground from a third story window, bored to literal death, was raised by the formerly violent apostle.
Jesus did it, the disciples did it, and he told us to do it.
So, I wish I would have called my dad’s spirit back, gone such a short time from his body, having just escaped while I was going up and down the elevator.
That would have been easier to believe for than four days stinky from a tomb. Life lesson.
Excerpt from Betsy’s book, Dude I Think Your Mom Healed Me