There are times in life when you feel overwhelmed by the kindness of God shown through servant hearts all around you. This month, as we struggled to get the podcast up and running, I thought about the people who’ve committed lots of hours in recent days just volunteering to try to work out some bugs in our system that seem to be ever-evolving and indeterminate. Matt Beard, Josh Sells, Mike Deasy, and Jennifer and Louis Benavides have all given volunteer time to try and make sure Digging Deep makes it to your screen. I’m thankful from a deep (digging deep) perspective.
But there is one person whom I rarely thank who really is always on the team. Glenn Colley is the husband who is always gathering up my lost devices, keys, purse and Bible. He’s clearing the pew after worship and asking if he can deliver this gift or hold this item on his desk till next time when the right recipient might be there. He’s remembering to pick up my bread and juice for the communion and going back to the car to retrieve the mask I left behind. He commits endless cumulative hours to keeping my chin above the water. I’m truly always in his debt, but he does not keep score.
This beholden girl just took a breath and thought about this blessing for a minute during the holidays. It’s always New Year’s Day when we have our big Holder clan over for a late Christmas celebration. This year surrounding this time, Glenn and I were talking through big problems with several couples and individuals. I know this was taking a big toll on the psyche of the man of God who faithfully talks to his Father about these heart-rending situations in lives around us. Glenn was also juggling his role in the “sandwich generation”—trying to take care of aged parents and traveling the four hours often to their home, while praying about specific challenges faced by kids and grandkids. He was pretty busy getting the logistics of probably the most tightly-packed speaking schedule in his lifetime. (All of the 2020 speaking appointments that were canceled were vying for the limited remaining dates of 2021.) Plane tickets, vouchers, rental cars, info for fliers, headshots, lesson outlines, deadlines were in his thoughts and correspondence at almost all moments of each day. Somewhere in this time frame, a minister in another state had called and asked for our cabin to lodge a widow who had a real need for a couple of weeks. She would be arriving just after the New Year’s gathering at our house, so Glenn was busy preparing firewood and making sure she could be warm and secure. He delivered Christmas baskets to local widows and he smoked ham for several in the church. He went caroling to shut-ins and made several visits and deliveries to people with cancer or Covid.
So I do know that, since it was a quarantining year and we could not have all the church family over like we love to do during the holidays, I could have settled for a small tree and a little less holiday fanfare. But my husband never flinched about the hugeness of the holiday at our house. He, in fact, is the one who called the tree farm to be sure they had a tree that was at least 12 feet tall. (I didn’t even ask him.) He is the one who asked if we could drive the hour-and-a-half to tag it in advance so that we’d be sure to get it. He never once complained about the piles and piles of gifts under that big tree. In fact, he commented almost every day about how proud he is that I’m a year-round bargain shopper and that I saved him from the wrapping chore. He delivered gifts to Florida for the kids who could not come and he assembled playhouses and made repairs on antique furniture gifts for the ones who could come. He purchased fruit for stockings for our huge New Year’s clan. And, maybe the most amazing thing to me was that my always financially prudent husband went out and spent a surprising amount of money on a wonderful display of fireworks that would be gone —just exploded into the sky—with nothing to show-for— in a matter of ten minutes.
When I tried to say my meager thanks for this pretty large entertainment purchase, he said “Oh, I do not do this for entertainment. I do this in your dad’s memory. I do this because it’s a tradition he loved. He loved Christmas and I don’t want to see the fireworks go by the wayside. I know everybody remembers a good life when we shoot the fireworks.”
I could go on, but I’m really thinking I could not describe the selflessness of the man who makes me the luckiest grandmother on the planet, with any more clarity than just telling you his fireworks rationale.
It ended up that, just as everyone arrived for the New Year’s Day party, we got an emergency call from the hospital and this good man who offered to cook the meal, was off and just hoping to make it in time to pray with a close friend and brother’s family as this brother was passing from this life. This little trip was so sad for him. He stayed a long while and he did miss the meal. When he came back home, he did not pass go or collect two-hundred dollars. He went straight to the shower, so he could be with the family without any extra fears of bringing them Covid from the hospital. Then he came back in and set up the shaved ice stand that he and Ezra had planned to run during half-time of the Bama game. (Ezra wants to go in the shaved ice business when he grows up and he wants Papa to be his partner…so he got a shaved ice machine from Santa Claus.) Glenn offered to take the photos during the chaotic gift-opening time. He went out and set up the fireworks in the bed of the truck. He led our family devotional at the end of the day. Then he helped put food away and clean up, at least a bit, a Christmas avalanche of paper and food and toys and stocking stuffers that was North Pole-worthy.
All of this was on Friday. And my husband went out early on Saturday morning to sit down and study the Bible with a man who needs to become a Christian. We had company in the house till late Saturday afternoon and this preacher still delivered a dynamic lesson about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on Sunday morning; a lesson which, by the way, I believe contributed to the success of a Bible study I was to have later in the week with a friend who was outside of Christ. And yes, my husband baptized my friend a few days later after we studied some more about the conversions in the book of Acts.
Happy Birthday, Glenn Colley. Somehow, I thought the “new” would wear off after a couple of scores of years with you. But your provision, your kindnesses to an undeserving girl, your magnification of the Savior to my weak eyes just find new resolve in your huge heart for Him—every single day. I do not know why or how I was chosen to have His favor in this tangible, yet eternally consequential, blessing. But to get to do this rapid trip through this testing-ground with my hand in yours is the honor of this lifetime. I fully expect to get to place my hand in His when the angels come because of your leadership to that eternal home.