“In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices, in the rocks, on all the thorn bushes and at all the water holes.” Isaiah 7:18-19
When I was a teenager, my family and I lived on thirteen acres of land. We grew most of the vegetables that we ate, and raised chickens. Chickens and cats. I had at one time, fourteen cats, in a pride made up primarily of females and their young. Tomcats would just wander away, looking for females.
Once, one of the kittens contracted feline leukemia. We took him to the vet but to no avail. This terrible disease ravished the young one’s body but still, he hung on. I can’t for the life of me remember his name. But I do remember the flies that would torment this dying kitten. They were big yucky things with turquoise-colored bodies. And on the day the kitten died, but before he struggled with his last breath, the flies were ruthless and relentless as they attacked his body.
I asked my dad about the flies. He said that the flies somehow know when death is approaching, and they swarm the dying animal. It’s a sign, he said, that death is near. He said it was one of those difficult life-lessons one must remember.
The problem is, I forgot.
Until March 12, 2006.
My dad had been diagnosed with lung and brain cancers (two primary cancers) six months prior, right after he and Mom moved in with me and my two boys, eight months after I had separated from my then-husband. It was a time of upheaval and transitions. That weekend, I had come home from work on Friday with a temperature. I stayed in bed most of the weekend, not feeling well. Rooms would spin around if I walked. On the beautiful afternoon of March 12, all the windows were open, letting the warm breezes of an early spring in. I eventually got out of bed and watched tv in the living room.
Mom asked me to take the trash out. I opened the sliding glass door to the backyard, holding the full trashbag, to put it in the trash container. As I did this, I noticed that the wall of the back of the house was swarming with…flies. Big, yucky, turquoise-colored flies. I looked to see what, if anything, could be attracting them to brick. There was nothing. They only swarmed on the right side of the house, the side that Mom and Dad’s room was on.
Suddenly, it all came back to me as though it was a sci-fi effect from a movie. The kitten. The flies. “It’s a sign,” Dad had said, more than twenty years prior, “that death is near.”
Immediately, I went to Dad’s hospital bed in his bedroom. We talked. I asked him important questions like “Are you proud of me?” and “Do you have any regrets?” We talked for at least two hours, and watched a television preacher besides. Two hours later, at eight o’clock, my Daddy died.
After the Hospice nurse had left and the funeral home men had come for his body, I went out on the deck to talk on the phone. As I walked to the end of the deck, then turned around, I dropped the phone: there were no flies. The flies were all gone.
I immediately praised God. He made that little kitten sick, so that Daddy and I could have a seemingly gross and circle-of-life kindof talk that could have been easily dismissed. He made that little kitten sick to bring the flies, so that I would have a sign, from God, that death would visit my home on March 12, 2006. He made that little kitten sick, and brought the flies, and made the flies swarm just one side of my house, so that I would know to get some very important issues square with Dad. God had used flies to tell me that Daddy would soon be with Him.
God can use anything, and most often does, to guide us – if, and only if – we have the opened Spirit eyes to see it for what it is: a sign of mercy from a merciful God.
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