It had been a long day, and I was exhausted. Going to bed early so as to rise early to start the day in the presence of the Lord had long since been my practice. I’ve learned to love this practice, but at my age it takes its toll, especially after dinner hour. A spirited game of hide and seek followed by kick ball with the grand kids didn’t help things either, O’ that I had the energy I had 20 years ago at the tender age of 50. Isn’t growing old fun? Well I admit the grand kids make it worth it all.
I had been intrigued all week attempting to grasp a better understanding of the 70th week of Daniel, commonly known as the great tribulation. It seemed that everywhere I turned some “Reverend” was trying to sell his congregation on the rapture being the next great thing on God’s agenda. A good many of them would go so far as saying that God is not a wife beater, therefor if he allows the church, His bride go through this tribulation then that somehow makes him a wife beater. Well sorry, but I just don’t buy it. In my Bible study this morning I counted at least fourteen references that Jesus made squarely putting his followers, the elect, front and center in the tribulation in Matthew chapter 24.
Jesus told his disciples in that very chapter that in the last days false teachers and prophets would be on the rise. Somehow, I instinctively knew that behind the scenes God was at work creating a tapestry as it were of these truths interwoven with the book of Daniel, and the book of the Revelation. Exhausted, I comforted myself by saying Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I leaned back in my easy chair, and drifted off to sleep. What took place next in a dream I couldn’t have imagined in a million years. In this dream I found myself at Riverwalk, one of my most treasured places to read, write, meditate, and so on. The winding path that follows the contour of the river is usually busy with joggers, bikers, and just common folk looking for a little break from the rat race of the city. Once a month on the last Sunday of each month the city holds a free Jazz festival for all who are so inclined. Whenever possible it is my habit to partake in this spirited festival, it’s a real treat.
So, there at a picnic table I sat feeding the squirrels with some peanuts that I always keep in my clove box, from my peripheral vision I spotted an elderly gentleman making his way down the path. As he approached, I knotted and politely said good morning sir, and he responded with a greeting as well. A little to my surprise he paused and said, “do you have the time my friend, the battery in my watch seems to have gone dead.” “not a problem sir, it’s 10:48 am, I replied” I guess I expected him to continue down the path, but when he asked if it was OK to sit with me awhile at the picnic table I replied, “certainly”, I always enjoy good company. “HI, my name is Billy, and yours’s sir?” “Raphael” he replied, “but folks just call me Raphie” “what ethnicity is your name” I asked? He replied “Hebrew, my name is Hebrew to the bone, and it means God heals” “wow I’m a little jealous”, “and why is that” he asked. Your one of God’s chosen people, I responded, and by the way isn’t the name Raphael one of the names of Gods great and mighty Angels? Yes, I suppose so, Raphael said in agreement. What, are you that angel I asked? Well let’s just say that I’m part of a holy delegation that is assigned to helping Gods people make sense out of the crazy world in which you live. Great Raphie you’ve come to the right picnic table, where do we begin. First Billy I must ask you the same question that you asked me, what is your name and what does it mean? Well sir I responded Billy is my nick name, my real name is William, and it means great provider, great protector. And what about your last name William? Well Raphie by law it is Rask, but my father was adopted very late in life, my last name by blood is Bergeron, and I just found out recently that it means Shepard. Hmmm, you know William, in God’s economy names have meaning for a reason. Quite often a person’s name is who and what they are. I’ll bet you a twenty-dollar gold coin that the questions you have for me are directly related to your journey to understanding, who you are and what you are here for. It’s all about purpose, right? I’m busted Raphie, your so right on, I’m fighting back tears just thinking about it.