I definitely had my hands too full when I left the church building that Wednesday night. Every time I go, I’m loaded coming and going. That’s the way it is when you’re going to see your family, I guess. So this time I set my books on top of the SUV, specifically thinking, “It would be just like me to forget these books, but I am not going to do that. I am going to keep thinking about these books. I am going to remember that my Bible is on the roof.”
Ten minutes later I was walking up and down Oakwood trying to find my Dickson Bible and one of my husband’s antique books from which I had read in my ladies Bible class earlier that night. I am not going to tell you which antique book because the preachers’ wives might tell their husbands and there would be uncontrollable grief among the soldiers of the cross.
I was a sight. Trying to find a place to park my SUV…trying to dodge the traffic as I walked along a road that really doesn’t have a shoulder, and thinking of just how I was going to break this news to my husband, who was, of course, yet again, preaching out of town that night.
If I could find these books, I knew by now they would have been run over, torn apart and generally mutilated. I wasn’t sure which road to even search because, true to form, I had gone down one road and realized I had forgotten a stop I had planned to make, so I had turned around in an apartment complex drive and gone the opposite direction. At which point had I lost the books? “Since I thought I saw one of them flying away in the rearview mirror on Oakwood, I’ll start there,” I thought. “But what are the chances?” It was dark. It was kind of dangerous, and, as time passed, so did lots and lots of cars. My chances of assimilating that Bible again were diminishing quickly.
And then a mini-van slowed and stopped, its lights almost blinding me. “Oh dear…friend or foe?” was my first thought….
And then the voice…”Cindy Colley, is that you?” It was the familiar voice of my brother, Tommy Barkley. “I thought that was you,” he said. “I told Paula…we have to go back and see if that was Cindy. Something is wrong.”
And so Tommy and his wife, Paula, diligently and slowly retraced my path until at last we saw the scattered pages and Mrs. Paula got out of that van and picked up pages and pieces of pages for at least five minutes. She also picked up other things that really should not have been in my Bible as my good husband has told me over and over: a photograph, a bulletin, a five- dollar bill, several attendance cards with notes on the back, a candy wrapper, an outline of a lesson I had taught, etc…. Tommy would not even let me get out of the van because I was on the traffic side; so there was my sister Paula out there chasing my paper trail all over Oakwood Road. I’ve been thankful for Tommy and Paula before—for helping me locate the right guitars for gifts, for encouraging me in teaching one of the baby classes, for making the sound system at the building so great, but I have never appreciated them quite so much as when I got home and realized that, with a few pieces of Scotch tape, I could actually piece together every single passage of both of those books!
Sometimes, people are spiritually looking for assimilation. We know about the Bible. Most of us own a copy. But, in our lives, we place the Bible in positions of irrelevance as we navigate the highway. We make turns, back up and turn around, stop and go, while we, like I was doing that night, drive further and further away from the Word; sometimes, like me, without even knowing it. Finally, we are not even sure exactly where we left it behind, but we know we need it back.
But by that time, we have often put ourselves in some dangerous and compromising situations. We find ourselves hurrying down a roadside that we would have never traveled had we not lost the Word. We desperately wish for light, for direction back to the Word…for someone to help. Spiritually, we need Tommy and Paula Barkley.
I want to BE Tommy and Paula Barkley for people around me who have reached this point of retracing, searching and putting-back-together. When I see someone who is looking for the light, may I always take the time to stop and say, “What’s wrong? Can I help you?” Then may I always take whatever time it takes from a busy schedule to lead her back to the Word and help her put it back together again so that it can, once again, be useful to her life; both now and for all eternity.
“All eternity”…perhaps that’s an oxymoron. We can never do anything for ALL of eternity, because there is no “all” of it. No matter how much has been expended there’s always that amount again…times infinity. It’s more than the human mind can unravel. That’s why looking for those people on the roadside who are trying to retrace is so important. Retracing is impossible without the blood of Jesus. And people have to find, assimilate and study the Word to know about the great power in the blood. I’m determined to stop and help someone back to the Word every time I get the chance.