“I had to find the wallet. It had US$300 in it, and all my credit cards! I had to find it!….”
Monte’s plane was to leave from the Las Vegas airport terminal at 3:30 p.m. With the COVID-19 restrictions, the mass of travelers waiting to fly, and the intense Vegas traffic, he was determined to be early. Way early.
Being early is especially difficult because the rental car return center is about three miles from the airport. “Be here at least two hours early,” the sign said. Monte obeyed, arrived three hours early, gave his black Nissan SUV rental back to the kind folk at the rental counter, and settled into the airport shuttle bus. He was relieved and pleased to have made it on time.
It had been a good trip, not to the city of Las Vegas, but to the mountains beyond where he had been recording a new gospel video series for Native American people, encouraging them to trust God for answers on how to live in this lost world.
Now his focus was no longer on the programs. Now he was thinking about finding the right counter, checking his luggage, moving successfully through the security checkpoint, and boarding the plane. On time!
When he got to the counter to check in his luggage, he reached for his driver’s license and felt terror grab his heart. His wallet was missing.
“I had to find the wallet. It had US$300 in it, and all my credit cards! I had to find it! I searched through all my luggage, and then remembered that I had put my wallet in the glove compartment of the rental car! Oh, no!”
* * *
The airline attendant used his passport to check in his luggage and issue him a boarding pass. “You have an hour and 40 minutes,” she said. “That gives you time to get back on the rental bus and see what you can do.”
Monte sprinted to the curb and waited impatiently for the rental car shuttle bus. When it came, it took forever to disgorge passengers, load new passengers, pack in the luggage, and move off toward the rental cars with the speed of a very tired snail. When the shuttle finally arrived at Avis, Monte managed to be the first person off the bus.
“You know how it is when you’re in a hurry?” Monte is getting anxious just talking about the experience. “There are always 10 people ahead of you!”
One of the clerks saw his look of distress and asked if she could help.
“I have a big problem. I left my wallet in the glove compartment of my rental car,” Monte said, with the voice of a desperate man. “And I can’t miss my flight.”
“What kind of car was it?” she asked.
“It was a black SUV. A Nissan, I think.”
“That’s not much help. We run about 300 cars through here every hour,” she frowned, “and yours has probably already been washed and put away. I probably can’t look through all of them fast enough to help you.”
Her words hung in the air with finality. Monte was going to miss his flight.
With that, she dashed to one of the rental cars. “This is going to be difficult,” she told Monte as she climbed into the car, tossing the words over her shoulder, unwilling to offer any hope. She then sped off toward the car wash and cleaning facility.
Monte stood on the curb, waiting slowly for the clerk to return. He understood “difficult,” and was already twisting the unacceptable result in his mind.
* * *
When she returned, she rolled down the window and asked if there was anything unique about his rental SUV. “I think it had Arizona plates, but I’m not even sure about that,” Monte replied.
“I’ve checked more than a dozen black Nissan SUVs during the past hour, and yours may already have been sent out with a new customer.” She was frowning again.
“It was just a plain black Nissan SUV,” Monte said, running through pictures in his mind. “And I put the wallet in the glove compartment, not between the seats.”
Surprisingly, she said, “I’ll try again,” and sped off the second time to where the cars were stored.
“As she drove away, I remembered to pray,” recalls Monte. “I’d spent all week presenting programs that explained how we can talk to God about everything in our lives, even the small things. But I had been so busy trying to solve this problem myself that I had forgotten to ask God to help me with this situation.”
His prayer was simple and direct, beginning with an apology.
“I’m sorry, God. I should have come to You first, rather than dashing around trying to fix this on my own. I’ve done everything I can; now I’m putting this all in Your hands. There’s a kind woman running from SUV to SUV searching for the wallet I forgot. It’s important for me to be on this flight, and since I have my passport ID, I will be able to get home. But if it can be according to Your will, please help her find it quickly. And whatever You decide, I’ll live with the result.”
His prayer erased his stress, relaxed his muscles, and replaced his frown with a smile. The problem was in God’s hands, and whatever God chose to do about the wallet would be OK with Monte.
He waited, trying to slow down his watch. Finally, only 45 minutes before his gate boarding time, the clerk came squealing up in her car.
“I thought you’d be happy to receive this,” she said as she handed him his intact wallet.
Her words stopped Monte’s heart. That’s what God always says, he thought. We cannot do anything to earn His gift of salvation. All we can do is receive it.
Monte humbly thanked her and dashed to the waiting shuttle bus, which left for the terminal immediately, finding only green lights on the way. The airport security line was a breeze, and moments later Monte was listening to a flight attendant give takeoff instructions from his seat in row 24C.
Actually, Monte didn’t hear a word the attendant was saying. He was sending prayers of thanksgiving to the God who loves for us to ask for help. Praising the Lord who teaches us to trust Him for the answers we can “only receive” from Him.
“You see,” Monte says, “Even what happens in Vegas matters to God.”