Life isn’t always as rosy as we paint it to be on our social media canvas. I try to put on my happy face and do my best to be encouraging, but sometimes, I feel absolutely overburdened with the trials and troubles this world has in abundance. Inhumanity. Greed. Economic woes. Political unrest. Warfare. Natural disasters. It’s depressing to read the news or watch it on television.
Just the other evening, Papa and I tuned into one of our local stations to catch the latest since we had been away for several days. One distressing story after another. Murders, fires, robberies, drownings…it went on and on until suddenly my husband (keeper of the remote) hit the off button. He said he’d had enough, and I nodded in agreement.
But I must remind myself that in every dark cloud that hovers over us, (and there sure do seem to be a lot lately) God still sends His rays of light to reach us. We just have to be on the lookout. Be sensitive to His voice. Be open to see and hear and experience Him. I wish I could say I always do that, but I am remiss way too often.
Early last week, Papa and I prepared to go on a much-needed vacation. He had a few days left and the old use it or lose it rule is in effect where he works. So we discussed where we might be able to travel by car for a short trip. After some thought, discussion, and internet searches for a place to stay, we landed on an opportunity.
I’ve always wanted to see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. If I had a bucket list, it would be on it. We found a cottage nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville that one could rent for less than a week, and amazingly it was available over the 4th of July. We promptly booked it and started packing.
Lately, I’d been feeling listless. My job search proved fruitless and since school is out for summer, there’s no substitute teaching. Oh, plenty of projects and chores called out to me here at home, but frankly, I just didn’t have the heart to even start them. I even felt distant from God, slacked off on prayer and Bible reading time, and found no inspiration for blog writing to boot. And to top it off, I’ve felt so weary of all of the attacks on people of faith that are constantly being highlighted in the news, not to mention the prevalence of downright rudeness and crass ways people seem to have adopted.
Yes, I decided, I needed a vacation away from the hum-drum of everyday life as much as my hard-working husband. The day before we left, I stopped in a department store on my way home from getting a haircut. As the store clerk was ringing up my purchase, I noticed a piece of paper taped to the side of her cash register, facing the customer side. A small metal object in the shape of an angel dangled from the paper, which was a little poem about God’s angels. I read it and frankly, I don’t even remember what was written.
I was surprised that the poetry was allowed in this public place because someone or other always complains about such things and forces their removal. But that’s not what amazed me the most. Underneath that printed poem were these handwritten words: “God loves you!” The word you was underlined twice to emphasize it, and I felt as if it were a message just for me that day – one of those little rays of light that God shines down that I must be willing to notice.
And He continued radiating His light all through our vacation. State by state (we drove through six states in one day), God made Himself known to me. Along the highway in one state, I glimpsed numerous sets of three crosses on the hillsides. The middle and largest cross was always painted gold and each time I noticed the cross, it reassured me of His willingness to pay the price for my salvation.
Viewing the countryside of mountains, creeks, and woods on our scenic drive reminded me that only a majestic and powerful God could speak such spectacular creation into being. Once we arrived at our destination, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of the cottage we had rented. It felt like a haven, a lovely spot of rest, and I knew only the God who loves me and wants what’s best for me provided this little sanctuary for a few days.
As we spent the following day touring the Biltmore Estate (which is absolutely amazing, by the way), we encountered kind and gracious folks, not discourteous or ill-mannered. Not hearing one bit of foul language proved refreshing and pleasant. It was as if the Lord was showing me that there are considerate, kindhearted people around us. Again, that little spot of sunshine in a dark world.
We prepared our own meals but did dine on good North Carolina bar-b-que one evening. And on our drive back home, we stopped at a chain restaurant in another state for dinner. Even the waitress was well-mannered asking us politely, “May I take these plates?” Papa picked up the bill and handed it to me, pointing to what was written on the bottom: “Bring in your church bulletin on Sunday and get 15% off your bill.”
Another sign for me that there are people out there who still believe in God, who attend church to worship Him, and aren’t afraid to let others know. People just like the bluegrass quartet of fellows playing guitars, banjo, and bass fiddle and singing their hearts out while beautifully harmonizing in a courtyard in downtown Mt. Airy, NC (Andy Griffith’s hometown and the real Mayberry from his TV show).
It surely was no coincidence that just as Papa and I sat down to listen to them, they began singing “Have a Little Talk with Jesus.”
I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven filled my soul
He bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus made me whole
(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus (let us) tell him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our faintest cry (and we will) answer by and by
(Now when you) feel a little pray’r wheel turning
(Then you’ll) know a little fire is burning
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer he knows my every care
And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.
Those good ol’ boys didn’t know how they blessed my heart that day and reassured me not only that God is there listening to our cries but that He answers by and by.
Sometimes He answers with obvious rays of sunshine like He showed me one evening on one of our scenic drives through the mountains (my photo above). Other times he sends us less conspicuous glimmers of ‘Sonshine.’ We just have to be willing to receive His message. It just took a vacation trip to remind me.
“Whenever I see sunbeams coming through clouds, it always looks to me like God shining himself down onto us. The thing about sunbeams is they’re always there even though we can’t always see them. Same with God.” ~ Terri Guillemets