I was just so tired of looking at masks instead of smiles. My kids who live close enough for me to ever see them anyway, were all in quarantine. I didn’t even want to drag out the Halloween jack-o-lanterns and garlands and goblins because nobody is ever going to be coming over. Every time I opened my laptop, I’d feel just a little worse after looking at the news. The counseling Glenn and I were doing—talking, really —was about heavy things that were hard to get out of my mind once the conversations were finished. Some people seemed bound to make decisions they are bound to regret once the pandemic and national tension are over. Sometimes, I was pretty sure attitudes in the grocery store had also been affected by the negativity in the world at large; there seemed to always be tension there, but never any Clorox wipes. People I knew were in the hospital and I could not visit them. Sisters I knew had been diagnosed with Covid and, worse still, others had been diagnosed with cancer. (These last observations should have been enough to stop me cold in my “pity party” tracks, but I persisted.)…I had geared up to speak a whole bunch of times this year and every single speaking engagement of 2020 had either been canceled or I was speaking it into a camera in an empty studio room. There were never any encouraging, in-person faces; and if there were, I could not see past the masks. We’d mailed out hundreds of packages and about one out of every five was lost in transit. Glenn, in cleaning up after a family birthday party, had jerked on a birthday balloon I’d taped to the candelabra (back before all the kids were quarantined) and he jerked the whole fixture down, so I had a dangling broken light fixture above my dining room table. Stuff was broken in the little Digging Deep studio, too. Mornings would find me determined to accomplish a check-list. Evenings would find me moving most of today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s page. At night before falling asleep, I’d read about some city (or forest) where fires were ragIng, because of natural forces or because of forces of racial and vitriolic unrest. I really was wallowing in the national pandemic of discouragement.
My husband suggested that we go away for a few days. “We NEED to do this, Cindy,” he’d say almost every day. “Our bodies and minds need to rest.” I was less than thrilled, arguing that this is not a good time to travel. “I just got home from a necessary trip”… “Things will be closed. We are in a pandemic.” But I tried to be compliant. I checked out flights to New England to look at the leaves, but apparently they don’t want people from Alabama to look at their leaves this year. That little trip would have required a couple of weeks of quarantine and temperature checks upon arrival, etc. So we just pointed the car in a southwesterly direction and ended up in Natchez, Mississippi with very little purpose or plan to do or see anything. But I saw a lot of things.
In the state of Mississippi, the mask mandate had been lifted. That, friends, may not have been medically smart. I do not know. I do know, though, that seeing strangers smile at strangers is a balm to weary spirits.
Immediately upon reaching our hotel in Natchez, we started looking for a church. The place where we ended up was in Vidalia, Louisiana. (After that search online and in the car, for a couple of hours, I was most appreciative of our church family, city-wide, in Huntsville, AL) This little church had to be the friendliest one in the state of Louisiana. All of their services were in-person. Their singing was robust and obviously from their hearts. They prayed for their “visitors” from Alabama in every single prayer and they graciously asked Glenn to preach on Sunday. But the thing that renewed my appreciation for the family of God was the comment in class by the kind gentleman who also led their singing. In the context of brotherly love from 1 John, he said “Most of you know that I live by myself. I try to talk to neighbors about the Lord, but most of them are not too interested. You know that this right here is my family. Y’all are my people. Y’all are the ones I need to see and I look forward to the times we get to be together. This is my place.” Now I don’t know about you, but my soul soared to hear this black brother talk about this very racially integrated body of believers as “his people.” I thought “This is what the Lord wants in all of our hearts. While the world is tumultuously acting like the world and trying to make everybody walk on eggshells around everybody else, he has called us out of darkness and translated us into this great family—the kingdom of his dear Son.” I determined to go home and just love my family like never before! Sometimes a woman needs a brother to just put her self-focused little mind in place again. He, like a spiritual chiropractor, just popped me back into alignment.
The next time we met with these sweet Christians, I took along our current Digging Deep study book and found women, who had never even heard of DD, eager to begin. Glenn talked to these sweet folks about Lads to Leaders (They had not heard about that either, but there was obvious young potential there.) There were folks there who had already found us and our West Huntsville family online and already begun to listen to archived lessons online. This zeal for the Lord’s family was refreshing.
Glenn was diligently looking, on this trip, for replacement light fixtures and doors for some oddly sized closet entrances in one of our bedrooms. We found someone who was selling both there in Natchez and set up a time to meet her. While almost every old house or historic place we attempted to go and see had been closed due to a hurricane (…yes, we had unwittingly traveled TO the hurricane area and electricity was off in much of the area and trees were across several area roads) this sweet lady took us to a large living space—a loft on the top of business space on Commerce Street in historic downtown Natchez, to look at light fixtures and doors! Not only did we get the antique doors and the fixture—both just what we wanted—but she, having grown up in Natchez, was able to give us perspectives about history that no tour guide had yet given. Finding that she had been to Israel, we began talking about Judaism and the Old Testament. By that time, of course, I’m back at the SUV, digging out our Digging Deep study of the Ten Commandments and I honestly think no one has ever been more excited to get a copy of a Digging Deep book than this sweet lady was to receive The Ten. I have a sister who is going to love to study this with me!”
…And in my reluctant heart, I was thinking “God is showing Cindy Colley a few things about a few things, among which are mercies that are new every morning (particularly in new faces and places). He might be showing me that I should just follow the counsel of the godly man He gave me, without arguing. He could be providentially asking me to get busy counting blessings and evangelizing wherever I am; focusing on finding opportunities to speak of Him, knowing that the world of vitriol changes one heart at a time as people are influenced by the gospel.”
And then, before coming home, we just stood and looked out over the mighty Mississippi. Covering two city blocks that had once been a bustling part of old Natchez, those mighty waters just keep on raging with undercurrents that prevent swimming or fishing, jet-skis or sailing. From the Natchez shoreline, just about the only boats one sees today are huge barges. headed for more peaceful ports and trade farther inland on the tributaries of this powerful body. Draining 41 percent of the United States, the water flows at incredible speeds and with deadly force. But God is in the business of irrigating and draining and He has channeled the power of millions of gallons of water within our vision—for warmth and light and industry and transportation. It’s hard to look at that river and its productivity without marveling at the creative and controlling power of the God we serve.
He gets it right, every time. In a world that’s screaming about justice and equity, I’m going to follow the One who gets it right. Even when I, his daughter, may question and writhe in His Providence—even when I might grumble in the shadow of His mercies, He gets it right. He is supreme and I’ve returned home with a greater respect for His majesty and provision for me. I saw the mightiest river in our part of the world “clap its hands” in full glorification of the Lord. Who am I to hang my head and think life’s unfair when the river is praising the equity of God?!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity (Psalm 97:8,9).
He gets it right. I’m thankful for renewal.