In the wee hours before daybreak, I opened my email and scrolled through the messages. One stood out from the rest.
The owners of The Richland Inn wanted me to know that not only had ”my room” been updated and painted a “lighter, brighter shade of blue,” but the Inn was “calling my name.” I picked up the key that sits in a special place on my desk and held it in my hand.
My first visit to The Richland Inn was during a cold spell in spring, my husband at my side. We were too numb to be sociable. Several months before, my husband had lost his job. Now, at the prompting of the Lord, we sold our house and placed all of our earthly possessions in storage. With dwindling finances and no place of our own, we planned to stay for several days at the Inn until settlement when we would part for good with our home.
Ice pellets stung our faces as we walked to the front door. Inside, a crackling fire and a glass of wine warmed us while we talked with the Innkeepers. On the dresser in our cozy blue and white room, a vase filled with delicate grape hyacinths stroked my aching heart. Throughout our stay, gentle voices consoled us with the soothing Words of God that never return void.
I returned alone that winter. My nerves were jagged as I pulled into the driveway. The snowy drive through the Allegheny Mountains had been treacherous and the months of joblessness and lack of our own home had worn me down. I knew my husband needed time at The Richland Inn as badly as I, but he sent me off while he stayed behind, doggedly searching for employment.
It snowed beautifully every day and each night of my visit. Filled with anxiety and sadness, I woke often during the nights in “my room.” Propped up in bed on one arm, I cried as I watched the falling snow through open drapes.
During my waking hours, the two Innkeepers comforted me with prayers and God’s promises. Finally, when His peace filled all of me and left no room for tears, I departed and returned to my beloved, sharing my refreshed faith and strength as we held each other tightly.
That summer, in need of sanctuary, I returned to the Inn. The Innkeepers were away but they, recognizing my need for refuge, had provided me with a key. I placed my computer on the kitchen table, next to a mason jar filled with cheerful zinnias, and wrote for hours, the stillness igniting my imagination. During walks, my eyes lingered over the carefully laid flower gardens and smiles replaced my frowns. Book completed, God’s peace established once more in my soul, I locked the Inn’s door and drove many hours back to uncertainty.
I returned for the last time that fall. Trees dressed in vivid colors surrounded the Inn. Inside, evening fires chased the chill from my spirit while God-breathed words provided salve for my raw emotions. I wondered aloud to the Innkeepers how much longer my husband and I could endure such overwhelming adversity, and was assured that God always provides a way out at just the right time. When my heart was revived, yet again, I hurried to my husband, knowing that he anxiously waited for fresh encouragement.
Odd, isn’t it, how an email and a key that sits on my desk could take me straight back to Richland. It was there that God used an Inn and its two keepers to love my husband and me through the seasons of our faith.
“For there is a time and a way for everything, although a man’s trouble lays heavy on him.” Ecclesiastes 8:6 (ESV 2001).
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012