Browsing Tag

Providence

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Curbside-Pick-up Lessons

I’m not adept yet at grocery pick-up, but I’m on the curve. Today I did the Kroger pick-up and then ran through a drive-through to get a sandwich. Needing badly to be outside, to see people and to feel that there’s a whole world out there–a world that’s not wholly sick, but still thriving in key ways, I parked under a tree to eat that sandwich. When I finished, I walked around to the back of the SUV and opened the hatch to get a banana for dessert–a banana for which I’d really been wishing for about three days. (In fact, I’d wished for bananas so badly that the girl who was putting my groceries in my trunk said “Wow! Your family must really love bananas!” She was right. I had lots.

As I grabbed that banana (which was mostly green, but I really wanted a banana) I knocked a half gallon of milk out of the back of the forerunner. I really wanted milk, too, but there it ran, down the little incline and over about three more parking spaces. But since I really wanted that milk and I knew how difficult it would be to replace without actually entering a store,  I put what was left of that slit carton in three plastic Kroger bags and put it in the passenger seat beside me. I got the diaper wipes out of the console and cleaned up the mat in the back as best I could (because, do you even know how rank spoiled milk smells?) and came home as, at last, I ate that green banana.

In my driveway, I realized that those three bags had not really fully contained that milk from the bursted jug. The passenger seat was a pretty big mess. And now my driveway was and my sidewalk, too. So I went inside and got the top to a Tupperware cake-taker and went outside and poured the remaining milk from that jug into the Tupperware. I took my big trash can from the kitchen outside to put those heavy wet Kroger bags into the trash. Then I went inside with my bowl of milk, got a jar and a funnel and poured the milk from the Tupperware into my jar. I got just a little over a quart, for all my trouble. It would have been easier to go down to my neighbor’s farm and ask if I could just milk a cow, for that quart. But, like I said, I really wanted some milk.

That’s pretty much how my week’s been going–about a quart of satisfaction per every gallon-worth of trouble…and a big mess in three different places at the same time.  I know some of you can relate.We’re innovative and independent, but we’re also incorrigible in our routineness. We’re inertia-driven, struggling to stop those routines and find our grooves in what seems a surreal stay-in-place pandemonium. We fight anxiety–about the sickness itself, about political extremism, about people from whom we are disconnected, and about the economy. We worry about how we will ever make up all those cancelled appointments and engagements and events once we do start having schedules again. I’ve wondered many times lately how people do quarantines without prayer and the Word. Knowing there’s no place to go now would be extremely hard if there was no ultimate place to go…for eternity.

But there was also this other moment; a moment that also happened while I was driving to that curbside this week….

My friend, a relatively new convert, called to ask me if I was okay and to encourage me to pray. She said, “We all have to pray. God will give us what we need if we just pray and pray.”

I knew she was right (Matthew 6:33), but I wasn’t sure exactly where she was coming from as we started talking. She related to me that some of her unbelieving friends were in a bad situation in a local hospital. She said to them “You need to let me pray for you. God can help you.” And so she did. Her prayers were answered in God’s great timing and this family is now open to Bible study.

She went on to tell me how very hard she has also been praying for her unbelieving husband. “I believe he is coming around to the point of believing in God,” she said. We talked further and agreed on a book that I’m ordering for her study with him. Then we talked about my friend’s job changes lately.

My friend has, for many months, been working in a restaurant. I encouraged her to tell the management that she could not work on Sundays during worship. She did tell them that, but, in spite of their agreement, they kept scheduling her so that she had to miss worship. At last, a few months back, she told them she would have to leave their employment if she could not faithfully worship. So they let her go; essentially, they fired her. She was seeking first the kingdom and, as she did, the Lord, in Matthew 6:33 fashion, provided another job, working with elderly people in a nursing home. My friend loves this work. Its pay and benefits are what she was looking for all along.

Her next statement was rich. ” Here I am, as an essential worker now; working, getting paid to do something I love, and eating right through this pandemic, while the people who fired me, as restaurant managers , are out of work.”  Can you think of a more practical illustration of Matthew 6:33?  I’d be hard-pressed to come up with one.

See, in a few of the little things, we may look at a quart’s worth for all of our trouble and get discouraged. But, in the big eternal things, let’s be sure to notice that, for our quart’s worth of seeking, our needs are repaid in gallons. Your prayer may not always be answered in exactly the same way or with the same immediacy that my friend’s is being answered. But mark it down: When we seek the kingdom first, the result, even when we wait till heaven to get it, will be fourfold (and more) blessings.

I know another family who was in the midst of trying to buy a home in a new city to which they were moving just last month. Their house sold, in the thriving February American economy, before they even placed it on the market. Finding one in their destination city was proving harder, though. It was a seller’s market there, as well. Many homes were simply snatched up before this good family had a chance to travel to see them. In one case, this family even placed an offer on a home sight-unseen, becoming pretty desperate to find a place to live. Every house they tried to buy, though, was not negotiable to their price range or was sold before they could even take a look. This little family kept praying and serving the Lord and, then, the pandemic hit. That’s when the market flipped. Suddenly, people were no longer buying houses and, just like that, this little family’s dollars would go much further in buying a house. They were able to quickly find a house and negotiate the price in a way that would have been impossible only a few days prior. No one in this scenario was happy, of course, that a pandemic had reached America (or even existed, of course.) But, at the same time, this couple could look back and recognize that, in their former disappointments, God was providing something better, as they continued in His will.

It’s often just like that. Providence can be seen so much clearer in hindsight. And, even in situations that were destructive and for which we would have never wished or prayed, for His people looking back, there was Providence…good things coming from difficult things. Blessings in trials.

Am I saying that God’s always going to fix all the problems for us, as His faithful children? Yes. I’m saying He will. I’m just not saying when. For some of the trials, heaven may be the fix. We may struggle with some hardships for all of this lifetime, as His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). But Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever it was, is “fixed” now. Let’s live in the shadow of Matthew 6:33 and patiently wait for the fourfold blessings, whether they may come in the blessed here and now or in the sweet by and by.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

 

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel: Next Stop–Abraham’s Gate at Dan

I love antiques. As I write I’m sitting in an old Windsor chair at a table Glenn built from wood from his grandparents’ old log cabin. My computer backs up to an old embroidered Valentine doily that boasts old blue Mason jars repurposed as candle holders. 

A few months ago, Glenn found an old rock chimney he was able to purchase from which he made me a stone fence around a little kitchen garden area. We spent some months of diligently looking till we found an old iron gate to make an entranceway through the stone wall. I never thought about the difference an old iron gate would make in the nostalgic feel of that little spot. 

An old gate. I may have thought I had an old gate outside, but in the Canaanite city of Laish, there’s an OLD gate. This ancient part of Tel-Dan was founded about 6000 years ago and the gate of the city has been unearthed, having been preserved well by a rampart having been erected over it in a later war.

The thrilling thing about this gate is that it seems almost certain to me that Abraham passed through it when he went to rescue Lot in Genesis 14:14. This is the location of Abraham’s travel with the 318 servants that were born in his own house. The gate’s common name today is “Abraham’s gate”.

As I looked at this gate, which is currently undergoing some restoration, I thought about Uncle Abraham going to rescue Lot, for whom he later made the sacrifice of the best land and who ultimately was father to two Canaanite nations that would plague the children of Abraham for centuries: the Moabites and the Ammonites (Genesis 19:37-38). His likely passage through this gate was just a passage through which God was working His own plan for the conquering of the Canaanites, the settling of the promised land, the ultimate birth of the Redeemer in a nation that had passed through the fire of enemy nations and been humbled because of their conformity to those nations. It was a passage through which God was getting us to our promised land around His throne. 

The term “old” is relative, for sure. This is an old gate.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #5: Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls)

It was an extremely hot day when our weary little group looked over at the caves of Qumran. From our vantage point, we could see several of these caves where, preserved inside jars of clay, were discovered in the 1940s, 50s and 60s copies of many ancient texts. Most relevant to us was the fact that portions of every single Old Testament book, with the exception of Esther, were eventually found within these caves. 

It all started  in 1948, when a bedouin shepherd boy (a teenager), in an attempt to find a lost goat, tossed a rock down into a cave, to try and determine if there was life in the cave. The sound he heard from the cave was not the bleating of a goat, but rather the shattering of glass. The breakage was heard all around the religious world!

The significance of these manuscripts produced exultance in those who rejoice at all further evidence of the authenticity of the scriptures and it produced scorn in those who claim that the Bible is uninspired. This is because the copies of the Old Testament writings were about 900 years older than any known existing copies prior to 1948. 900 years!

The Isaiah scroll was the most complete Old Testament scroll found in the caves of Qumran. Almost the entire book of Isaiah was found. Amazingly, when compared to the manuscript that was previously known as  the oldest one (written about 900 years later), it was very close to exactly the same text…word for word. Remember, we are talking about documents originally copied by scribes between the years 68 BC and 250 AD!

Our God has said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words shall not pass away.” We, as His people believe we have the inerrant, plenarily inspired Word. But even the skeptics were aghast at the number of Dead Sea scrolls that contained Biblical text, the amazing way they were preserved, and the striking evidence they produced that what we are reading today is indeed the same text that was written by the original penmen.

As you can imagine, once the shepherd sold his new-found treasures (the first scrolls found) to an antiquities dealer (for about 28 dollars) and the world slowly caught on to the news about the scrolls, archaeologists wanted to dig  (and they did, finding 800-900 documents and over 50,000 fragments, along with what many believe was a “writing room”). Discoveries led them to believe that the documents were written and preserved by scribes of the Essenes, one of four distinct Jewish groups of the Roman period.  As conflict and war in the middle east interrupted the excavations, Jordanians seized the scrolls during the 6-Day War and kept them for a time. The government of Jordan is still attempting today to lay claim to the scrolls. 

God’s timing is always perfect. I’m thankful that my childhood was the one era of time into which the scrolls were introduced. Why did God allow those scrolls to be hidden for 2000 years? I do not know all about His reasons, but I do know that the leading nations of the world, including the United States and European countries, were, in the 1950s and 60s, launching into an era of unbelief like no era they’d ever known; an era that would lead them to the widespread acceptance of the Darwinian theory of evolution and a swift resultant revolt against time-honored codes of morality. All the while, God was shouting from dry bedouin caves in the Judean desert, “My Word shall never pass away.” His providential timing is perfect! 

Looking at these caves made me all the more excited to visit the Museum of Israel, where I would get to see some of the jars and some of the manuscripts found in them. That post will come soon!

Qumran lesson: Jars of clay were the preservation vessels. There were treasures awaiting discovery in the jars of Qumran. God can use an ancient scribe in exile, a young shepherd boy and a lost goat to reveal His powerful evidence. While I know that we are not the inspired writers  (as in the passage below) who had the treasure in their miraculously empowered minds, He can still use you and me, in a sense, as jars of clay today, to put the preserved Word in the hands of those who desperately need it. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:7-12)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Stolen Bible and the Podcast

A beautiful sixty-something woman made her way to the microphone to lead the closing prayer today in West Plains, Missouri, where I was speaking at a ladies seminar. She paused before praying to comment on the the Providence of our great God, about which I’d been speaking. She reminisced about the early days of her marriage, when Providence found the newlyweds in a hotel room en route to an off shore assignment with which her husband had been tasked, early in his career. At the end of the hotel stay, her husband picked up the Gideon Bible from the hotel desk and placed it in their car.

“What kind of man have I just married?” she thought….”What kind of man steals a Bible?” 

A few days later, while her husband found himself waiting in the car for a tugboat to come and transport him to the job, he picked up the “stolen” Bible and began to read. Just at the right time, an elder in the church of the Lord passed by the car. Glancing in the window, he noticed the young man reading the Bible. As any good soldier does, the elder engaged the young man in conversation about the Word. He basically asked the question asked by Philip two thousand years ago of the Ethiopian journeyman in Acts 8: “Do you understand what you are reading?”  

The rest, as they say, is history. I guess the tugboat came to pick him up, but that was just incidental when compared to the rescue of the spiritual lifeboat that day.  Lo, these many years later, this sweet woman, baptized along with her husband, as a result of reading from the “stolen” Bible, led our feasting souls in prayer at the conclusion of our study on how to be beautiful women for Him.

Story after story comes my way about how people learn the gospel by “chance.” In fact, I am convinced that, for souls who are seeking, there is Providence; not a miraculous nudging or a better-felt-than-told mystical experience. But, when people are seeking—when they are opening up the Bible and looking for His Will—there are often still people who are praying for opportunities to interact with those seekers.  Our God is powerful enough to orchestrate His Providence in uniting teachers with students and bringing seekers to those who can facilitate understanding. 

I pray that He is doing that with our Digging Deep study. I am praying hard that, as we explore His supreme authority, He is bringing open hearts together with open Bibles in sweet circumstances that can bring souls to an ultimate place around His throne. I hope you can be with us for the first podcast of this year’s study. It’s tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CST here: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women. If you can’t make it live, shoot for watching the archived edition. Either way, if you could be praying about the digging, the hearts, and the receptivity to the power of the Word, Emily Anderson, who joins me tomorrow night, and I will be so thankful. Blessings till then!

P.S. If you’d still like to get in on the study, there’s plenty of time to catch up! September’s portion can easily be combined with October’s and you’ll be right with us by the end of the month. We’d love to have you studying along.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Invitation of a Child–Part 2

A few posts back, I chronicled the story of how one small boy’s invitation to a VBS resulted in the salvation of  multiple souls and opened doors indirectly to many blessings for a succession of people (https://thecolleyhouse.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=10944&action=edit). Here’s the poem that was read at the celebration of the marriage of these two Christians, who became such as a result of that “inconsequential” invitation on a regular day. Little people, regular days, a few words, and small events can be game changers. Maybe we should just all pray every day for the normal…the uneventful…the regular, in our lives.  All of these He can  use to affect eternity.

 

For Grat and Kirsten

Baseball, basketball, and running around in capes,

Superman and Batman and planning heroic escapes.

Putt-putt, Ninja Turtles, and hanging around with Nate.

Boy scouts and camp-outs, so much to anticipate.

 

A few short years later, a little girl arrived.

A princess! On sweet friends and fashion, she thrived.

She awoke to this world with an inquisitive heart

Learning languages, cultures and savoring art. 

 

And the little boy, Grattan, grew to be  a man

Went to high school and college and worked out life’s plan

He was so savvy with public relations 

Technology, too…all things communication…

 

And, somewhere, behind Grat, Kirsten would follow

Through Memphis and London and even Guatemala

Birmingham, and Arkansas, Germany and Rome

She  didn’t know yet that Grat’s heart was her home. 

 

Such an unlikely pairing? Who saw that this could be? 

Yet here we are rejoicing, for this happy family.

A little technology…a little more time

Who knows how it happened…the reasons and rhyme?

 

God knows how it happened. He guided their souls.

His Word was their compass…their anchor for goals.

For each of them wanted with all of the heart

To just give Him their wills…to be His from the start…

 

In the home they are making, the children they’ll bear

The decisions of life, the sorrows they’ll share…

The memories they’re making, the worship they give

Just to make him the Master each moment they live.

 

And THAT is what ties them, safe and secure

In all times and stations, for God’s paths are sure.

A rock is our God. A fortress, a shield.

A shelter, A stronghold…And they will not yield.

 

To voices that call them, to tests of their will,

They’re listening to one voice that said “Peace…Be still.”

Whatever the price or whatever reward, 

Married to each other, but first….to the Lord. 

Cindy Colley

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Six Pounds, Fifteen Ounces Fresh from God! (and Congrats to Courtney Clark Grice!)

 She is here and she is precious. She is perfect.

There I was, after being in and out of that hospital for the past 33 hours, in the gift shop. We’d put Ezra and Colleyanna, the excited, but very tired little cousins down for a nap in the lobby of that birthing center. I’d promised them if they closed their eyes and took a nap, I’d have a surprise for them when they woke up. We’d moved the chairs and benches around. We’d read a Little Critter story. We’d even turned on a sound machine so they could hear the ocean and they had complied.  So, while they slept, I went around the corner and down the hall to the gift shop.(Little did I know they really would have a HUGE surprise by the time they awakened and I did not even need to go to the gift shop!) You know how gift shops in hospitals are. So I opted for two rolls of Life Savers for $1.09 each rather than the plastic pink flamingos for $12.99 each or the ceramic basket of cookies shaped like feet with the “Get back on your feet” card that bore the $39.99 sticker. The little credit card reader said “approved” and I was waiting for the receipt that I needed to sign. The “pink ladies” behind the counter were chatting about the weather when it happened. The lullaby on the hospital speaker system played. In clear tones, the bells pealed the first three bars of “Lullaby and Good-night.” The sweet ladies both exclaimed “Another baby has been born.”

“That’s not just another baby! That’s MY baby!” I shouted. Grabbing my card and my little bag I ran out of that store and down that hall.

“But you need to sign…” shouted one of the ladies

“Aww, let her go!”…I heard the other one say.

And then I ran smack into Hannah who was literally running to find me. “Mom, That was OUR lullaby!”

And it was. Maggie waited a couple of weeks past her due date to come. That’s the part of her that she comes by honestly. She’s running behind from the get-go, just like her paternal mammy. Then she waited a considerable time after her mama was admitted for her birth. But good things come to those who wait. (And can I say right here that her mom was a CHAMP of a “waiter”?!…I mean “waiting” all that time without anesthesia?! She never ceases to amaze her mother-in-law.)

After driving 12 hours or so without my license (still have not found that thing), cajoling the security authorities to let me in to see my baby without a photo ID (that’s the moment I found that I had no license), having two different house guests here in Huntsville while I was in Florida, helping my husband to get to the Nashville area for a seminar where he was to speak that, in the end, turns out to be NEXT weekend (…yes, he missed the birth, yes, he was crushed– devastated, even, and yes, with the heroic help of our son-in-law, Ben, he DROVE from Jacksonville, Florida to Murfreesboro via Columbus, Georgia and Huntsville, Alabama, so they could both get their suits and sermons for their respective speaking engagements, just so Glenn could get up at 5 am and drive a couple of hours more to an empty parking lot)…after all this and so much more, I am home. But this mammy is wishing she could kiss those newborn cheeks one more time.

Notwithstanding the chaos, every birthing room prayer has been answered and in perfect ways that we could not have imagined and could never deserve. He is so good. We are blessed beyond what those who are without the Lord in moments like these can even approach. We praise Him for she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Now, for the contest drum roll! Three ladies guessed the exact weight, six pounds and 15 ounces.… Courtney Clark Grice, Michelle Giselbach Nicholas, and Heather Bear Yarbrough! But Courtney broke the tie by guessing her length as 21 inches. Her actual length was 20.5 inches. (Heather and Michelle both guessed 19 inches) So congratulations to Courtney! Send your wish list, Courtney, for $50.00 worth of free merchandise from www.thecolleyhouse.org to byhcontest@gmail.com. Please remember to put your address there. Heather and Michelle, you both will receive one free book, dvd, or cd from The Colley House. Just email the same address. Include your postal address and what you would like! Congrats to 3 great guessers!