To those who know me, using the words “Dan” and “Las Vegas” in the same sentence seems like some sort of weird anomaly. “YOU’RE going to Las Vegas?!?!” My nephew was getting married and we wanted to be there for Scott and Lindsey’s wedding. So we flew out on Friday, attended the Wedding Saturday, went to the Hoover Dam on Sunday, and flew back on Monday. And I didn’t dance at the reception. I told my wife if they had a slow dance I would dance, but they didn’t so I didn’t. My brother and sister-in-law tried to get me to dance, but I am only extroverted on the inside. Maybe you’ve heard of the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump”? Well this Dutchman can’t dance. I did however tap my foot to the beat…at least I think it was the beat.
It was a really nice wedding and we had a really great time.
I took a bazillian pictures. However, we didn’t gamble a single penny. If there is anyone else out there that has PURPOSELY flown to Las Vegas and NOT gambled, please raise your right hand.
We walked the strip, saw the water show at the Bellagio, witnessed the volcano going off at the Mirage and almost bumped into Elvis. My wife had her picture taken with a rather waxy Nicolas Cage and I did with a paraffin Don King. Even though some spots were shoulder to shoulder people, it was fun. I like the people watching thing. On Sunday night we were to meet my brother and his wife at the Paris for supper but had some time to kill so we just wandered around for a while and did some window shopping.
On our way out of the Bellagio we just “happened” to bump into an older lady (I don’t know – 65 maybe?) that was nicely dressed but a little tipsy. She just sorta started talking with us and asked where we were going. She kind of volunteered to show us how to get to where we needed to go. Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” was the song at the water show and she stopped, put her glass down, raised her hands and cheered when it was done. (I get a lump in my throat whenever I hear that song). As we kept going and either we followed her or she followed us we continued our conversation. We paused within half a block of the Paris; she put her packages down and just kept on talking. She shared about some of the problems in her family – I knew that we had to meet my brother but I resisted the temptation to look at my watch. After she talked some more I put my arm around her and told her that Jesus loved her and cared about her problems. I then asked her for just her first name and said that we would pray for her and her husband. She said, “Are you a minister?” I said, “Yes I am.” Her immediate reply was, “I thought you said you worked at a medical facility?” (This and a couple other of her comments made us realize that, even though she had been drinking, she was more than sort of with it) I quickly explained to her that I do both but in order not to scare people away by immediately telling them I am a preacher I usually just tell them I work in a purchasing department of a large medical facility. I mentioned we would pray for her and her husband and family. That’s when she grabbed our hands and said, “Lets pray RIGHT NOW!” Pretty much surrounded by people the three of us bowed our heads on a really busy corner just down from the Paris. She prayed a little and then abruptly said, “OK, it’s your turn!” Kay and I both prayed for her. I felt the love of God well up in my heart for her as we prayed and I became immune to the crowds and the need to meet my brother. We finished, chatted a little more and then went our separate ways.
She headed back to her time-share apartment. I honestly have no idea if any of our conversation sunk in or how much of our prayer she grasped. Her doctor-husband had flown out earlier and she was alone. Maybe she just fell asleep, maybe she drank some more, maybe she wished some friends were with her. Or maybe she wondered if God really does love her.
God cares intensely about people. Read the Gospel of John chapters three, four and five. In chapter three Jesus met at night with a VIP of Jerusalem named Nicodemus. To this outstanding and upright citizen (who knows, maybe he was voted the husband and father of the year) Jesus said, “You have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God.” In chapter four Jesus just “happened” to run into a woman at a dusty well just outside of Drunktown. She was hardly your model citizen. Five failed marriages, living with number 6 and the social outcast of Sychar. Yet Jesus took the initiative to gently break through her hardened exterior and extend to her the gift of eternal life. In chapter five he found a man at the pool of Bethesda that was paralyzed for 38 years. You get the feeling that maybe he blamed everyone and everything for his problems. Yet Jesus stopped, healed the man, and lifted him out of his paralyzed condition.
Maybe you are a leader of your community like Nicodemus or maybe you feel like a social outcast like the woman at the well. Or maybe you are lying paralyzed in your problems like the man beside the pool, or maybe you are just like the lonely lady on the Vegas strip. Whatever your situation, Jesus cares for you. John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (YOU!) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!”