One day about twenty years ago, my flight attendant friend in Hong Kong called to say she would be in LA in a few weeks. We usually met when she came to LA on a flight. The airline put her up at the Torrance Marriott, and I lived in nearby Redondo Beach. If her layover fell on a weekend, we would hang out at the Del Amo Mall, shopping until our feet begged for mercy.
My friend always asked if I wanted anything from Hong Kong, but this time she had a request. She had seen a special kind of hair gadget online but it was available for shipping in the US only, so she asked if I could order it for her. It was a BOGO (buy one get one) deal. She would pay for both, and I could have the second piece. I’d have helped my friend even without her generous offer, but then I wouldn’t be telling you the story twenty years later.
Even in those early days of online shopping, I had acquired enough experience to place the order without a hitch. My friend was thrilled with the gadget, and I with the light green comb they’d thrown in as a bonus. Apart from the color, I liked the comb’s soft wide teeth and the forked tail, which makes it easy to separate the hair into sections while styling.
I’ve been through my share of hair dryers these twenty years, but the comb has remained in my possession. It travels with me wherever I go, and here’s where the story takes a dramatic turn.
A few weeks ago, I went to Phoenix for a conference, and for the first time in twenty years, I couldn’t find the comb when I returned home. I thought I’d forgotten it at the Airbnb, having packed and left in a distressed state. My mother was seriously ill in India, and it’s a miracle I didn’t get into an accident as I drove back to LA. Otherwise my story would have ended like that of Carrie Fisher, the Star Wars star who died a day before her mother, Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds.
I was drying my hair the other day when I heard myself saying out loud, “I want my comb back.” I hadn’t planned to say anything of the sort, but neither was I surprised when I said it, thanks to a story I’d heard Pastor Bill Johnson tell at a Harvest Rock Church conference years ago.
The story is of a man in Bethel Church who lost a Swiss army knife he liked. One day while praying, the man declared, “I want my knife back.” And lo and behold, the knife returned to him almost immediately! I forget how it happened but the point is, I felt a similar faith rise in me when I said “I want my comb back.”
A day or two later, I felt led to stick my hand into a tray in which I keep some toiletries I don’t use on a daily basis. I didn’t need anything from the tray, so it had to have been the Holy Spirit.
I have no idea how the comb ended up there. The tray does not contain any of my hair items, and I normally put the things back where they belong. That’s why I have so many boxes and trays and boxes in trays. At any rate, when my fingers reached the bottom of this tray, I was delighted to touch the familiar forked tail.
Like the grateful Samaritan in Luke 17, I thanked the Lord for letting me have my comb back. My hair wasn’t tangled but I began combing it anyway. As the soft wide teeth massaged my scalp, I looked up and said something that instantly turned my joy into the grief I’ve lived with since 7:48 p.m. on May 4, when my sister called to tell me that Mummy is now with Jesus.
I looked up and said, “Can I have my mother back?”
I’m old enough to know that not even God can bring my mother back.
I’m just not old enough to stop being surprised by God.
Even though God will not bring my mother out of the grave until the final resurrection, when the dead in Christ will rise first, He loved me enough to hear my anguished cry and respond.
A few days after I’d made that impossible request, I had a strange and beautiful dream in which my mother came back. In fact, when she stepped into the room where my sisters and I were, she said these very words: “I’ve come back.”
(c)2021 Sharon Arpana Edwards. All Rights Reserved.