For the second time that day what Jars heard took him by complete surprise. “What do you mean you were there?” The question echoed in his own ears. Try as he might, there wasn’t even the hint of a memory of Nikki lodged in his brain prior to their meeting in Cooperstown. Had he passed her somewhere on the hospital grounds? No, that couldn’t be it. Nikki had said that she knew he had undergone a pacemaker implant procedure. Her words had been specific.
“You were there, weren’t you? You were part of the surgical team.”
The pieces began falling into place. Nikki had already told him that she was a surgical nurse. Against all odds their paths had again crossed, this time several hundred miles from the operating room where they had initially met—or where Nikki at least had first laid eyes on him. For his part, the various members of the surgical team had been a blur. He’d been aware of others besides the surgeon and anesthesiologist in the room but only as shadows, faint images moving about.
“Wow,” he muttered. “Who would ever have thought that—”
“That we would be in a helicopter together winging our way from upstate New York back to Charlottesville a mere four days later?” Nikki’s brown eyes took in the plush cabin with amazement. “Certainly not me! But am I totally surprised? No, not really.” The brown eyes morphed into twin almonds shimmering with mirth. “Father has a way of leaving his distinctive mark on matters he wants us to give our utmost attention to.”
“Father?” Jars wasn’t making the connection.
“Yes, Father. The God who is both my Father… and your Father.”
Jars would have quickly dismissed such words from anyone else as sentimental foolishness or a excuse weak-minded people gravitated to whenever something struck them as not easily explained. But the woman sitting across from him, although full of warmth and kindness, wasn’t the sappy sentiment type. And she was certainly far from weak-minded! In fact, it was partly her keen mind that had captured his interest. Nikki’s intellect, coupled with her gentle kindness, radiated out of a quirky personality that was very much alive… and was proving increasingly irresistible. And hadn’t she been reading a Bible when they’d connected for breakfast? Some sort of paraphrased translation of the New Testament? He’d passed it off at the time without much thought. But here Nikki was talking about God as if she actually knew him.
For her part, Nikki was feeling more relaxed with each passing minute. Sure she was heading back for a consult with her doctor that hinted of bad news. But whatever the news, God’s moment-by-moment presence was all around and within her, filling her with warm assurance. Not of any outcome she might concoct in her own mind but in something that would far surpass anything she could ever imagine. That it might include doing away with her cancer once and for all was something she hoped for… but not something she either demanded or counted on as some sort of proof of God’s power or love. He’d proved both in sending Jesus into the world to do away with all that was wrong in the universe—including the wrong inside her own heart. God was her Father and could make her into the woman he had in mind by whatever means he chose. Somehow, her battle with cancer was connected with the man across from her whose puzzled expression rendered him silent.
Nikki leaned forward, taking Jars’ hands in her own. “So tell me, what does a man as obviously healthy as you are need with a pacemaker?
The impact of her touch kept Nikki’s question from immediately registering. Her fingers were long and slender yet he could sense the strength and purpose that ran through their sinews and veins, guiding them towards the ends she purposed for them. If, at the moment, those ends included comforting him and bringing the two of them into closer connection with each other then her hands were succeeding. Her touch brought with it both comfort and a sense of longing mingled with hope. A longing to know her… and a hope that time would be given to him to do so. That time was something that was given, like a gift, was a novel thought for Jars.
“And what does RRNTBV1 mean? We saw it etched into the device we implanted in your chest,” she explained.
“Russian Roulette Nano-Technology Bullet Version One.” The words tumbled out of Jars’ mouth softly but distinctly, as if he were afraid of mishandling them and giving them a reason to change their mind about the mercy they had shown him thus far. Mercy he now disparately wanted more of.