Artist’s Lane: For such a time as this


By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

We operate in the currency of the day. I told my Sweet Al that each person’s currency is different, used to negotiate whatever we see is important.

After three months, we are leaving isolation and entering a new place. News reporters ask, “Do we know how to navigate our new normal?” 

A better way of asking the same question: “Are we stepping into a new country with yesterday’s currency in hand?”

For people of faith, our currency is the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to worry about an exchange rate because God’s word never changes. Deposit a few coins and we release the power of prayer. 

“For such a time as this.” A fitting quote that dates back to a time when Esther and her father’s family were facing death. Yet, she found the courage to look death in the face, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” Her journey was greater than the unknown before her. 

Twenty years ago, I found myself in a place that wasn’t familiar. It required a different currency, not to mention the use of a different language, both of which were foreign to me. 

Allison, one of my daughters, invited me to go with her to Brazil on vacation. She was flying from Virginia and I would be flying from Albuquerque. We were to meet in Rio de Janeiro. From there, we would catch a flight to Vitoria, a city on the southern shore of Brazil.

Delayed getting through customs, I didn’t have a way to communicate where I was or what was happening. Allison, not knowing if I had even made it to Brazil, waited as long as she could then boarded the next leg of travel without me. All remaining flights to Vitoria had departed by the time I cleared customs. My only option, take a bus to a small commuter airport on the other side of the city. 

Not being adept with international travel, I neglected to exchange my U.S. dollars for Brazilian reals in advance. I assumed it was something I could easily take care of once I reached my destination. Of course, I hadn’t planned on being detained, which altered what little planning I had done. 

In order to ride the bus to the other airport, I had to use Brazil’s currency. I ran from place to place looking for someone who would exchange my dollars. It probably wouldn’t have been that difficult had I known how to speak Portuguese. 

Exhausted and at my wit’s end, I finally found an American couple who was willing to exchange some money for me. I was relieved, until I realized what lay ahead. I still needed to figure out how to board a bus and explain to the driver where I wanted to go. 

Even now, I still attest to that day being one of the biggest nightmares of my life. I will never forget how I felt as I sat on that rickety bus next to people I couldn’t communicate with, traversing streets only seen in movies. This was before cellphones, my daughter was in flight, and I didn’t even know where I would meet her if and when I got to my final destination. 

Today, it seems as if many are going through the biggest nightmare of their lives. After all, who of us was prepared for such a time as this?

Although translated speech is important when trying to navigate foreign soil, cash is king. As Christians, our key to opening any door is our faith, Jesus being the only one who knows the shape and strength of the metal that unlocks the lock. 

Imagine having the faith of Esther, who was willing to risk even death, but had the confidence to say, “if I perish, I perish.” Her journey was not based on the difficulty of the time, but in her confidence to arrive where she needed to go.

Final brushstroke: My faith was tested in a foreign land. It was that faith that helped me to survive in the world where I found myself. Sometimes we have to be stripped of everything before we realize the power and value of the currency that resides deep within us. But once we do, we find the confidence to unlock the mysteries of tomorrow.

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