Has God ever given you a sign? How about a soda-pop flavored candy one?
Well, that’s just what he gave my Husband, Ryan and I.
Here’s our sweet story…
We were headed home from a weekend getaway to Indianapolis. After 2 days sans-children we were blissfully relaxed, and our conversation had shifted from the superficial, into deeper territory. I couldn’t tell you how we got to the topic, but suddenly, the most raw, and honest secret came bubbling out.
“I’m afraid to die.”
There it was. My big, strong, 6’1” husband admitted that he was afraid of dying. Not of the pain, or of leaving things undone, but fearful that there was no “eternity” waiting for him. I didn’t know what to say. This was not a fear I shared. For as long as I could remember, I’d looked forward to going to Heaven. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in a hurry to get there. I just don’t have any reservations about the fact that the best is yet to come!)
My eyes welled with tears. I felt so guilty that I had failed to recognize that this wonderful man, my very best friend, and the love of my life, was struggling with his faith. After a few minutes of awkward silence, I worked up the courage to respond.
“I’m not afraid to die. Haven’t you ever had a “sign?” You know, one of those moments that are just way too coincidental to be anything but God at work?”
“None that I can think of……… do you have any gum?”
I could tell that he was done with this subject. I handed him a piece of gum, and I helped myself to a piece, too. After a few minutes of chewing, he said; “That’s weird. This gum tastes like a Root Beer Barrel……… you know, one of those little brown hard candies…….”
As I chewed, I tasted it, too. “I’ve had this gum a million times and it’s never tasted this way before.”
“Hey- back to what we were talking about before……. maybe you should say yes to going to the retreat you were invited to. Maybe it would help you with this whole “fear of dying” thing.”
“I’m sure it can’t hurt…….”
Two weeks later, Ryan attended the Great Banquet, a 3 day Christian retreat. It was at this retreat that he received his “sign.”
The very first morning of the retreat, Ryan found himself restless and unable to sleep. While everyone else remained asleep, he got up, showered, found a cup of coffee, and wandered into the meeting room. Once inside, he looked around and found a seat in the middle of the room. As he sat down, he noticed a bowl of candy. He reached for it to look inside, and right in front of him on the very top of the pile of candy sat a single Root Beer Barrel. His heart warmed, and his eyes teared up as he recalled our conversation in the car, and our “Root Beer Barrel” flavored gum.
God had given him a sign.
Ryan would go on that weekend to renew his Faith and accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. When he returned home to me on Sunday evening, he hugged me, cried, and shared his “Root Beer Barrel” story with me.
Since that time, Ryan has gone on to serve as a team member for others attending this Christian retreat, and his heart opening experience has changed our Family, as well. After Ryan attended the Great Banquet, we began to pray together as a Family, and we began to read the Bible together. It’s hard for me to imagine that life wasn’t always this way, and that at one time, attending Church was the only Christian thing that we did together. I’m just so grateful that God showed us how sweet life could be.
Root Beer Barrel sweet.