Recently, while my husband was preaching a series of meetings, we had the privilege of staying in the home of a dear Christian lady. As I observed the pattern of this woman’s life for the few days we enjoyed her hospitality, I was reminded of some important truths. At first glance my new friend (I’ll call her Betty, for the sake of honoring her privacy) seemed like just any ordinary Christian woman going about her busy life, juggling family, church, and work, as most of us do. But, as I observed her more closely, I found a woman who loves Jesus and is actively expressing that love to the people around her. And that’s why I want to introduce you to her.
This precious sister was so kind to Don and me, seeking to serve us and make us as comfortable as possible. Soon after we arrived on Saturday evening, she grilled steaks for us, as well as, her pastor and his wife. Now, I’m not writing about her because she prepared a delicious steak dinner for us, although we thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m writing after watching her selflessly serve so many people during the brief time that we were her guests.
Betty’s second husband was quite a bit older than her, and he had a daughter who has an intellectual disability. A few years after Betty’s husband died, she found out that the people her stepdaughter, Teresa (her name has also been changed), had lived with for over thirty years were mistreating her. Although, they had been very kind to Teresa for many years it seemed that they could not deal with the severe diabetes she had been diagnosed with. Betty made the decision to bring Teresa into her home, fully realizing that her life would be forever changed. I was encouraged, and at the same time, challenged and convicted as I watched Betty patiently deal with Teresa, even at times when it obviously was not easy. At sixty years of age, Teresa is one year older than the lady she affectionately calls “mom”, but mentally Teresa is like a child in many ways. Although she can administer her own injections, it is Betty who makes sure she receives the right amount of insulin. Betty is also helping Teresa learn to read, and lovingly caring for her as she holds down a fulltime job. Betty told me that Teresa has a brother, who has an intellectual disability, as well, and that she is planning for him come to live with her whenever the 86 year-old lady he currently lives with passes away. As she shared this with me I was so convicted about my own selfishness and desire for what is comfortable. You see, I don’t mind serving, as long as I don’t have to step outside of my “comfort zone”. I don’t mind serving for an afternoon, or a few weeks, but if asked to commit my life, every single day to caring for someone who is so vulnerable and needy, well, that would take a lot of prayer and heart-searching.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, now I can see why you wanted to share about this lady.” But Betty’s story doesn’t stop here. I watched her leave the house early on Sunday morning so she could prepare to teach the children at church, as she does every Sunday. I also noticed that she was gone all Sunday afternoon, and I found out that she had taken Teresa with her to visit an elderly couple she’s been checking on each Sunday, an elderly lady who had recently had surgery, and to make a quick trip to the hospital to visit one of her customers from the bank where she works. One of the elderly couples she helps on Sundays is not Christian, so as she serves them she also shares the gospel with them. She has met some of the people she ministers to through her workplace. She discovers that they are sick, grieving or hurting in some way, and she helps when and how she can. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I look forward to my Sunday afternoon nap sometimes feeling that I have earned it. After all, I’m usually tired from working and serving the rest of the week. But, not Betty; she’s still serving while I’m catching a few z’s.
But, her story doesn’t stop here either…having experienced the loss of her husband about five years ago she has begun an outreach to help the other widows in her church. Once a month (previously once a week), four or five widows come to Betty’s house for dinner and a time of sharing their hearts and praying for one another. Sometimes they also play a game together and just enjoy one another’s company. I heard from the lips of a couple of the ladies just how much the Lord has used these times in the process of healing their broken hearts.
Betty reminds me of so many beautiful women I have been privileged to meet or know through the years; women who are quietly serving the Lord just where He has placed them. They have never written books or even blogs; they have never been seen on television or heard on the radio or Internet, and they will never be well-known or receive lots of praise for their giving hearts. These women were reaching others with the love of Jesus long before “being missional” was the cool thing to do. They don’t have to be begged, bribed, shamed, or rewarded into serving others. They are simply expressing their love for the Savior toward the people around them in simple, practical ways.
Betty also reminded me of another woman I hope to meet some day. She lived a long time ago, and although she was never rich or famous, this ordinary woman had the greatest commendation ever. In Mark 14, the Lord Jesus defended her, and He said that her sacrifice for Him would forever be a memorial to her. This nameless woman (identified as Mary in the Gospel of John) came to the home of Simon the leper, broke a flask of very costly oil and poured it on Jesus’ head, anointing His body for burial. I love the simple words Jesus said about her, “She has done what she could.” That encourages my heart so much! You see; most of us will never rescue children from Hindu temple worship involving forced prostitution as Amy Carmichael did. Most of us will never lead one hundred Chinese children to safety and deliver them from certain death as Gladys Aylward did. The vast majority of my readers will never care for lepers or write best-selling books, or teach great theological truths to thousands, BUT there is something we all can do. The Lord has strategically placed those He has called us to serve right smack dab in the middle of our lives. If we will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and keep our eyes and ears tuned to the hurts and burdens of others, we will realize there are people all around us who need the love of Christ that we profess to have experienced.
While some of you may be waiting for the chance to do some great service for Christ, life is passing you by, and so are untold opportunities to express the love of Jesus to those you rub shoulders with every day. Your gift of service doesn’t necessarily have to be extravagant as Mary’s was. The sacrifice of a little time or a few resources can mean so much to someone who is in need. Although we may not be capable of extraordinary feats for the kingdom of God, most of us can make a meal for a family who has a loved one in the hospital. Most of us are able to do laundry for a sister in Christ who has just given birth, mow a lawn for an elderly neighbor, give a small financial gift to someone we know has lost their job, or take a troubled teen out for coffee and an encouraging chat. There are a multitude of practical, yet meaningful ways we can share the love of Christ with the world around us. And how amazing to think that as we lay down our lives for our family members, the body of Christ, our friends, our neighbors, and others Providence brings into our lives that the precious Lord Jesus may say of us, as He did of Mary, “She has done what she could.”