I must admit Kentucky is a strange place to live, even for someone who comes from the nearby state of North Carolina.
Kentucky is the state which still brings you snake handling churches, as a fulfillment of the so-called long ending of Mark 16 (the bit that comes after Mk. 16.8), which we now know was no part of the original text of Mark's Gospel. But that is a story for another day. To give you the flavor of some of Kentucky consider the following story told by a Methodist bishop.
Bishop Duffy once told me about what it was like to minister in Appalachia, in eastern Kentucky in the Red Bird Missionary Conference where 'Christian weird' is an everyday experience. He tells the story of sending two young men from that region to seminary at Candler. They were back woods boys called into ministry whilst still rough and ready-- actually more rough, than ready.
Before the fall was out Dean Cannon wrote Bishop Duffy and said he was going to have to send these boys back as they were making D's and D-s. Bishop Duffy protested and said " Don't you dare send those boys back before graduation. I've got some D and D- churches here in these hills that need them!" Well, Kentucky is in some parts and in some ways a little shy of plumb. You get the picture.
So, I am always on the look out for strange religious phenomena in Kentucky, and prepared for most anything. I have to confess however, even I was not prepared for the serendipity that happened in Morehead Kentucky earlier this week, which made the evening news a couple of days ago.
Seems that a nice Christian lady was cruising along in her PT Cruiser (a recent gift from her loving husband) on a narrow road next to a deep stream or river in an isolated rather desolate spot near Morehead. She was minding her own business when she skidded, over corrected, and ended up in the swollen stream, her car sinking fast. Now this nice lady cannot swim, but she does know how to call upon the name of the Lord, which she did-- in earnest as she was going down fast!
She managed to get the window rolled down and force herself out the window and into the stream. It was icy cold, she couldn't swim but somehow she dog paddled her way to the edge and dragged herself up on the shore. She was freezing to death, it was dark, and the road was not heavily traveled. She muttered something to Jesus about please send someone, an angel to help her or she would freeze to death. It's been in the teens and lower around Morehead this week.
Suddenly she saw some car lights coming down her side of the road, and she staggered out to the edge of the road frantically waving her arms for help.
Sure enough, this first car stopped and it was someone who knew her, a man whose name was-- wait for it--- Angel! Yep, that's his last name. Brother Angel picked her up, took her to her house in town, and she is doing fine just now, minus one new PT cruiser. The Lord moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.
I am just wondering whether Rom. 8.28 might be an apt verse to reflect on just now, on how God does work things together for good for those who love him and call on his name. Just occasionally we get a picture of how God is working things out in our daily lives. Its worth remembering those images when the dark days come.
John Muir put it like this-- We look at life from the back side of the tapestry, and what we normally see is loose threads, knots, tangled warp and woof. But occasionally the light shines brightly through the tapestry and we get a glimpse of the larger design, how the darks and lights are woven together. Amen, give us that glimpse now and again.