Maybe it’s in the name. I don’t know. But even the thought of visiting a ghost town sends shivers through my veins. No, I don’t believe in ghosts, and no, I don’t believe ghost towns are haunted by their former inhabitants. Nonetheless, just looking at those abandoned buildings and thinking about the life they once held tends to fill me with an unsettling sense of regret: Regret for livelihoods wrenched from eager hands, regret for the hopes and dreams that had been shattered, regret for each one who came there for fame and fortune, but left with … nothing …
This is how I felt last February as I stood amongst the ruins of yet another southern Arizona ghost town: Gleeson. History records that Gleeson was established in the late 1890s by a local miner, John Gleeson, who registered a copper claim and opened the Copper Belle Mine. The local post office, established in 1900, supported about 500 people, most of whom worked in the mines. The town burned down in 1912, but the demand for copper was so high that Gleeson was quickly rebuilt. The mine continued to boom through the WWI era; however, after the war, copper prices fell and production decreased. The mines all shut down in the 1930 and most of the families moved on. Even the post closed in 1939. Gleeson had become yet another of southern Arizona’s many ghost towns.
There is nothing much left of Gleeson except for decaying foundations. Some of the better preserved buildings include a hospital, a saloon, a dry goods store, and, most notably, a jail. The jail has, actually, been privately purchased and restored, and at certain times of the year, it is open to visitors. It wasn’t open the day we visited, however, and somehow, the fact that even the restored jail was closed served to add to the sense of gloom and doom that lingered about the ruins.
As I stood at the entrance to the jail, I was tempted to let the sense of loneliness and abandonment get to me. Before I let myself go down that path, however, verses from Ps. 23 went through my mind:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me….” (Psalms 23:1-4 NIV)
Wait. I may have been standing in a ghost town, surrounded by dismal reminders of lives that had once been, lives that should still be; I may have been immersed in the dreary, bleak reality of the dry, abandoned desert, but I was not alone. My Father, my Shepherd, was with me and I lacked nothing! Not only that, but no matter what the world might try to push on my plate, my God will never, ever abandon me! With promises like that, why do I even need to worry?
What dry and dreary place do you find yourself in right now? Are you, like the ghost town of Gleeson, feeling completely abandoned? Are you lonely? Do you feel your hopes and dreams have been shattered? Has your livelihood been wrenched from your hands? Did you come to this place with fame and fortune, but you’re left with… Nothing? Remember Psalms 23: The Lord is your shepherd, you lack nothing! He makes you lie down in green pastures, He leads you beside quiet waters, He refreshes your soul. He guides you along the right paths and even though you walk through the darkest valley, you have no reason to fear any evil at all, for He is with you!
Enjoy with your Heavenly Father, bask in His presence! Feel the comfort of His rod and His staff! What may appear as a ghost town to the world is, in all reality, teeming with life in God!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)