Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5
We stumbled into Black Friday. It was 1980. We had just returned from a three-year tour in Germany while serving in the United States Air Force. It is amazing how things can change in three short years. We enjoyed our time in Germany immensely, but it was so good to get back to the greatest country in the world…the USA. We were being assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri. No, I am not kidding. We quickly settled into the new version of our old life. See, you only thought “new normalcy” was something new!
We got back in the country in August and before we knew it, Thanksgiving was right around the corner. I don’t remember anything about Thanksgiving Day, but I sure do remember the day after. I was off on Friday and since Kansas City was only about 45 minutes away, we decided to drive into the city and go shopping. It sounded like a great idea. It probably was a great idea before we left for Germany in 1977, but things had changed. It was a new normal but we were unaware of this phenomena.
We got up on Friday, ate and headed into the city. Visions of good deals and the excitement of the Christmas season were dancing in our heads. We picked our mall—there were several to choose from—and off we went. As we drove down the highway and neared the exit and the mall, much to our surprise there was traffic everywhere. The exit was jam packed and once we got into the parking lot, we realized it was stuffed to the gills. We kept saying over and over again, “What in the world is going on?”
Well, I can’t remember if we gave up on that mall or not. I don’t remember finding a parking spot, but I may have blocked it from my memory. We tend to do that with nightmares! Anyway, we headed to mall number two. It was much larger, with a very, large parking lot and plus by now the initial rush was slowing down some. After circling the area several times, we did manage to find a parking spot. Hey, what if it was ten miles from the mall? Smile.
We hiked to the mall and joined a sea of people as they weaved their way through the stores. It was about that time we finally asked someone, “So what is the deal (no pun intended) with all the people? Why is everyone here?” It sounds almost humorous now, but we were sincerely in the dark. The clerk looked at us like we had just returned from the moon or something and I guess in that instance, we had. Apparently while we were in Germany this thing called “Black Friday” was either born or exploded. We had walked into a feeding frenzy of holiday madness. Since that time, it has taken on a life of its own. Stores that opened at crazy hours were now opening on Thanksgiving Day itself. People would storm the doors and fight for the right to get a good deal. But.Not.This.Year.
This year it is going to be different. Because of this year’s new normalcy, many stores that were open on Thanksgiving last year will be closed. Employees who in year’s past had to work will now have time with their families. In the recent weeks leading up to Black Friday, stores have been offering, promising, Black Friday pricing for weeks and not for a day. That might just save someone’s life. Perhaps Friday morning will look more humane and not so much like the Allied troops storming the beaches at Normandy.
I know it is hard to find good things in bad days but maybe, just maybe, if we look hard enough, we might find that parts of the new normalcy will be a better normalcy. It seemed from the beginning that part of the COVID thing was a forced Sabbath. God tells us in His Word to rest in Him alone because all our hope should come from Him. It was like He said, “Enough is enough of this madness we call life. Slow down, already.” And, we did…we have. Maybe we will rediscover the blessings all around us. Maybe we will rediscover the wonder of a little Baby born in a feeding trough to save the world from the madness of sin. Maybe we will rediscover the value of family, of others, of generosity, of love. I hope so.
After my initial baptism into the fires of Black Friday I have not been much of a fan. I’ve never stood in line at the door, I’ve never fought someone for a deal, and I’ve never got up at 2:00 am to go shopping. But I have rushed through the holidays like a bull running the streets of Spain. Maybe this year I will slow down. Maybe you will too. Sound challenging? It is. But pressing the pause button is not a bad idea…especially if it causes us to rest next to our Dearest Daddy. And especially if it causes me to realize…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne