I wrote the following in a letter to my granddaughter the day after the Todd General Store burned:
I can’t help but think of the many moments you and I had in the shadow of the Todd General Store that is now only a pile of dust and memory. How does something that has been a foundational part of everyday life for decades, in just a few moments, stop existing? My memories are never of the store itself, but it was the main backdrop of a thousand memories. Memories of Nana, your Mom and Dad, and many loved ones as we worshipped together, ate and played together, and at times cried together. My most vivid memories are of you running into my arms off the school bus, driving my car sitting in my lap, riding your bicycle with the neighbor girls, and climbing all over the old locomotive in front of the depot. It all seemed so stable, so permanent. And like an old grandfather at the top of it all, was the General Store. Now gone. There’s a line from The Chronicles of Narnia in The Last Battle that says, “All worlds will draw to a close except Aslan’s own country.” But when the children finally reach Aslan’s Country, they find everything they ever loved is present, but in its full clean best form. For everything that is good is from God. Everything that is worth caring about He cares about too. I don’t know if the Todd General Store will be in Aslan’s Country. For those it was that important to, it will be. But for me, it is the treasure of all we had there that will be kept and protected. But now, we have a new world: you and Steven are new parents; my daughter is a grandmother (that seems silly to say!); Nana is a great-grandmother; I am married to a great-grandmother! And so I am, well…older now. Time is still zooming past us, headed towards Aslan’s Country. I hope we are all learning how to hold every moment as precious. To do that we must at the same time we are holding it, then let it go, not try to cling to anything. We let it pass into the Hands that gave it to us, and trust Him to keep safe what we have entrusted into His hands. For the whole world is fast changing. Every second is flying past us. Only two things are forever: Him and us. And only us, because of Him. Kiss Easton for me till I can do it myself.
There is a sense this morning that we are in an atmosphere akin to that of world war. I do not pretend to know if that is true. I have never faced that harrowing climate which my parents and grandparents knew so well. But in the Spirit, what I do sense is the awareness of the instability of civilization and the temporariness of all things. I can choose to either be shaken by it, or be made wiser from the keener awareness of it. I choose wisdom, not fear. For fear dishonors God. Everything that matters is kept safe by Him. Nothing is in danger that matters. If this is not true then the 365 repeated phrases of Scripture, one for each day of the year, that tells us in some form or other Do not be afraid means nothing. And God never says meaningless things. When the world is fearing, that should mean that believers are anticipating. What the world fears losing, we only hold loosely, knowing to Whom we have entrusted it all. Do not be afraid. Honor God with your faith as He carries us all in His faithfulness.