Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32They seem larger than life. I am from a generation that deeply admires heroes—people who seem larger than life. They do the most amazing things. They lay their lives on the line for their country, the put on a badge and go into dangerous situations for a few dollars a week. They charge into burning buildings when everyone else is trying to get out. Those are just a very few…the list goes on and on. There are also other kinds of giants—-larger in life in the quest for excellence, to change the world or perhaps, to be like Jesus. These are some of the people I admire the most—true spiritual giants. A couple of years ago I met one. I was amazed by her story.
It all started when we were invited over to a friends house for supper. When we arrived we had the opportunity to meet her mother who lives with her. That is when I realized it probably wouldn’t be a normal evening.
When her mom spoke to us you could tell she was struggling with her voice. Before long, she explained and that was the beginning of an incredible story.
She explained in 1950 when she was 19 years old, she was diagnosed with polio. If you know a little about that time period, there was an epidemic of this terrible, dreaded disease. It struck without warning and without rhythm and that was the case here. It left this dear saint partially paralyzed and also affected her vocal cords. I was enthralled with her story as she shared they said she would never walk—but they were wrong.
Then she shared more and more her story. When she was born (and remember this is around 1930) there were twins and she weighed less than two pounds. She was a fighter from the beginning and fight she did. Later, when she was eleven, she basically was put out to fend for herself and she did. She had a strong constitution and work ethic. I was amazed.
She married and had three miscarriages before giving birth to her daughter. She would end up having 21 surgeries for various reasons and also lives with a colostomy. She has been told that she has cancer though they really can’t pinpoint the source. I know there are several things that I am leaving out but that is enough for you to get the picture. She life has been difficult from the get-go but that is not the main story.
The most amazing story is her faith. Receiving Christ at a young age, her journey of faith has been strong and steady. Instead of turning bitter, like Job, her love for God only grew deeper and stronger. She shared that evening how blessed she was that God had entrusted her with this suffering. From her lips poured words of praise for her Savior. Then came stories of incredible generosity to those in need—both physically and spiritually. It really was amazing.
Judy and I both left that night refreshed as if we had drunk deeply from a cool spring. We were blessed, encouraged and challenged by a saint who had given more than she took. She isn’t the only one. Over my almost four decades of pastoring, I have bumped into so many spiritual heroes. You had to bump into them because like most heroes, they don’t brag about their lives and stories.
When I left that night I also left strengthened. It is instances like this that solidify my own faith. When I see and hear stories such as this one, it shouts to me, “God is real.” It also does one more thing. It causes me to examine what kind of story am I writing. When people read my life, what does it say about me…and about the God I serve.
Each one of us are writing a story and during this hot mess called COVID-19, we all have special opportunities to write a saga. The way we live, act and speak will tell a tale. Hopefully it will be one of grace and kindness. Paul wrote in the Bible that we should be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
That is a tall order but God is in the business of filling tall orders. Why not take a moment and ask your Heavenly Father for a little, or maybe a lot, of help. Let Him know you’ve been treading water a lot these days and you could use a little rest. Don’t worry—He is ready and willing to help. He’s got this.