[CF Devotionals] 2012-07-11 - God and Andy Griffith

"The steps of the godly are directed of the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand." (Psalm 37:23, 24 NLT)

"I'm in deep trouble, Lord! Rush to my aid, for only you can help and save me." Psalm 70:5 (LB)

Andy Griffith, comedian and actor, died on July 3, 2012. He was often referred to as "America's Favorite Sherrif" and I can't disagree. Don't tell the teenagers I work with, but I'm an Andy Griffith fan. Yes, its true. I realized I was finally an adult, when I found myself watching "The Andy Griffith Show" because I wanted to, not because my Dad or Grandma was watching it. I still catch reruns whenever I can, even though I've seen every episode several times already. A marathon was on the weekend after his death, and I spent most of Saturday and Sunday on my couch enjoying it.

I think the show is funny. I appreciate the small town life portrayed in the fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. Its wholesome and unoffensive. The biggest concern they usually have is illegal moonshine and Otis the alcoholic. I love the cast of characters. I think Deputy Fife is tremendously entertaining. I love how he gets all worked up, in contrast to Andy's laidback personality. I love it when Andy plays his guitar and they sing together. Little Ron Howard as Opie Taylor is adorable. I love how Andy is a firm but fair, father with him. There are even scenes where Andy and Opie say bedtime prayers together and various episodes show them in church as a family. I like Sherrif Taylor's feisty pharmacist girlfriend, and then later, his feisty teacher girlfriend. I wish Aunt Bee (AintBee, if you want to pronounce it the way they do) lived in my house and cooked for me.

You can tell I really like this show for a lot of reasons, but my favorite part of the show is that, no matter what, Sherrif Andy Taylor always seems to know what to do. He wants right to win, for everyone to get along, and for things to be peaceful. He'll "give someone what for" if he thinks they're out of line, and tell them they need to do right or change how they're thinking, but more often than not, he handles things using charm and humor and that easygoing manner of his. He calms everyone down and finds a clever way to solve whatever problem the town is having. Sometimes, he has to get creative with his solutions. When the grouchy store owner tries to run off Bert the traveling salesman, Andy finesses the situation until Bert winds up working at the store. When Aunt (Aint) Bee and her lady friends are squabbling, he orchestrates them all showing up to pick up pictures from their trip to Mexico at the same time, so they'll start talking again.

That Sherrif Taylor. What a guy! I can't imagine what Mayberry would have done without their wise and kind sherrif. The writers of that show did such a great job. "The Andy Griffith Show" is a fictional sitcom, though. It was canceled before anything could happen to Sherrif Taylor to take him from his town. but what if it had been real? What if that town full of people so dependent on Sherrif Taylor had to face him leaving one day or dying, as the real- life Andy Griffith did. What if he'd taken a job that moved him to Mount Pilot, or even Raleigh? The town survived okay without Deputy Fife (even though it wasn't as funny), but you can't have "The Andy Griffith Show" without Andy Griffith, can you? What would they have done? How would they have  solved their problems? Who would they have turned to for guidance and  solutions? I recall the episode where Floyd the Barbor says in despair, "What're we gonna do, Andy? What are we gonna do?" like the world is about to end. They were depending on a human being who couldn't be around forever.

And what about the rest of us? We don't all live in a town like Mayberry where nothing really bad ever happens. We don't all have a Sherrif Taylor to run to, who will help us solve our problems. Our day-to-day world is much more complicated, with bigger concerns and bigger consequences. Its real and it can be scary. We like to know there is a literal "go to" person. After Jesus was crucified and not with them anymore, the disciples hid and freaked out, thinking they were abandoned and without someone to give them direction. Jesus knew they would feel this way, and He knows we feel this way at times, too. Jesus told His followers (including us today) when He was here on Earth, that He would not leave us stranded after He returned to Heaven. He said He would send the Holy Spirit, our Counselor and Comforter, to help us (John 14: 15-16.) I don't know how this works, but the Holy Spirit is described as "indwelling." That means, He lives inside each of us, in our heart or soul or spirit somehow. God isn't here on Earth in the flesh anymore, but His Spirit is within us and is actively helping us. He also speaks to us through the Bible. It is His letter to us, that we can read whenever we want.

I sometimes still wish God would just show up and sit down with me in human form, to hug me or walk with me or to have a conversation. Jesus said it was best that He go away, so we wouldn't be dependent on someone in human form - but on the Holy Spirit. God knows what is best. What we have now is a God who knows our needs and who wants to help us with the problems we face each day.  Whether they're big or small, they're important to God because we're His children. He loves us and wants us to come to Him with our worries and concerns. He will give us guidance, wisdom, strength, and peace, and will help us to know what to do.

God's ways might not always be as obvious as Sherrif Taylor's. He might not give us a happy ending in half an hour or less, but His ways and His timing are trustworthy. He understands things about what's happening that we don't.  He knows the past, present, and future more fully than we ever can. He has an eternal perspective that allows Him to know exactly what we need, before we even know to ask. As much as I enjoy Sherrif Taylor and how he takes care of Mayberry, I'm so much more thankful to have a relationship with the God of the Universe, who knows what needs to happen in every situation and who will lead and guide me as I face the challenges of day-to-day life.

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