by Kay Etheredge
Outside our kitchen window the wisteria is blooming. I have always loved wisteria. It makes me think of my friend, Suzanne. It makes me think of my mom, and it makes me think of a godly ballet teacher who took my daughter’s class on “wisteria walks” when it bloomed each spring at Briarwood. My daughter loved those walks and the talks that accompanied them and I am grateful for the people God put in her life.
Our church met this past Sunday. It wasn’t a decision that was made cavalierly, and I admit my faith was small. I expected a small handful of people. Our church is tiny at best, but in the midst of a pandemic we had 25 people. We took precautions, but we worshiped as a body. One of our oldest members, 87, was there. One of our weakest members, a man who uses oxygen, was there. A dear lady who is in a wheelchair, was there, only this time she walked bravely in on her walker. Afterwards I expressed to her that I was surprised she came. Her response was, “yes, when I saw it was supposed to rain I almost didn’t come!”
When we got home, our daughter in Georgia told us that their service was live-streamed and we could watch it if we wanted. We watched it as well, and our new son in law preached. We sang along when they sang, we prayed when they prayed. We relished seeing our daughter go to the altar and receive Communion from her new husband.
Monday night we went for a long walk. The sun was setting and it was beautiful. The birds sang. We stopped at one point to laugh at a bird perched on a limb above us, chirping loudly in our direction. As it got dark, we walked past a small walking trail where there is a creek. We stopped there to listen to the crickets, and I told Jim that my Daddy always said, “as long as you hear crickets, everything is good.”
This COVID- 19 is showing us the best and worst in people. It is showing us the best and worst in ourselves. I have chosen to deal with it by spending more time reading my Bible and praying, and less time watching the news stories on television. I believe we are called to be wise and to obey the governmental authorities over us. This week they have said meetings of 25 or over are prohibited. This Sunday, our tiny church will be empty. But we are also called on to be Christian in our behavior. Our son told us about being in a store and a lady beside them got the last two bottles of formula water. Seeing our son and his pregnant wife, she turned and said, “Do you need one of these?” She took it out to hand it to them. Our son said no, they didn’t need it. She then said her baby had just gotten out of the NICU. What a sacrifice she was willing to make! In a Lent reading I read this week, (written and published long before COVID 19), I read that the most frequently used command in the Bible is “Do not fear”. Three words that are easily said, but in these days so much harder to live out. In fact, I think they are impossible without the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural act, much the same as the choice to forgive those who wrong us is supernatural.
Things are getting tough. They will get tougher, we are told. Our daughter in law is expecting a baby in just a week or two. She text me this morning from her OB visit in Jackson, MS. Greeted by people in masks, her temperature was taken in the lobby before she could enter. When she got inside she found out that her doctor, the same one who is to deliver our grandchild, was possibly exposed over spring break. He is currently not there and is quarantined.
My husband and the staff are trying to keep BBM running. They are trying to keep 76 men in 4 common dormitories healthy and fed. It is a tremendous burden and it is done with deep and sincere love for the men. They take temperatures daily and two staff members are out today. Our children are saying, “Dad needs to stay home.” When this newsletter is mailed out and you are reading it, none of us knows what may be different. Our prayer is that the men at BBM will stay healthy. We have asked God to work mightily in keeping them well. Our prayer is that each of you and your families will be well, too. We pray that we will be well so we may make it to Jackson to help our son and daughter in law with the other two children while they deliver our new grandbaby.
God tells us throughout His word, “Do not fear.” Sometimes the best thing to do is turn off all the screens and just spend time with Him. Tell Him we are anxious, we fear, and we need to know He is here. We need to see His hand amid all the chaos around us. He is Lord over everything, even Covid-19.
Sunday, in our daughter and son in law’s church in Georgia, the congregation who bravely gathered there sang this song. It has stuck with us and blessed us and given us great peace. It is called Come, O Redeemer, Come” by Fernando Ortega. Whether you know it or not, may you receive comfort from these lyrics. Look it up online if you want to sing along.
Father enthroned on high, Holy, Holy.
Ancient eternal Light, Hear our prayer.
Come, Oh Redeemer come, Grant us mercy.
Come, oh Redeemer come, grant us peace.
Lord, save us from the dark, of our striving,
Faithless and troubled hearts, weighed down.
Look now upon our need, Lord, be with us
Heal us and make us free, from our sin.
We hear the fear in our adult children’s voices. We see it in the faces of strangers we see clutching toilet paper and bread in the stores. We see it in the empty seats in our churches, and in the faces and voices of the men at BBM. We hear it in our own voices as Jim and I repeat to each other that we are in the at risk age group. Last night, my husband’s phone beeped and he looked at it. One of the men had sent a text saying he felt led to pray for us and wanted us to know that he was doing that. What a comfort that was!
The wisteria is blooming outside my kitchen window. Today is the first day of spring. The birds, oblivious to the fact that a pandemic is raging, are building nests. Our Father, who tells us not to fear, promises to care for them.
How much more, then, will He care for us?