God gave each of us challenges. Our family of three had no place to live. We moved the people, but not the possessions, so my husband-pastor could start his ministry at this church. Emily took us in. Emily, still reeling from the sudden death of her husband-pastor, found out she had little money to live on. The grieving congregation, who loved the husband-pastor almost as much as Emily did, was ready to move ahead. Lighting the way while shepherding in another man's long shadow, my young husband responded to the call.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." We were all weak, but God's grace was in evidence. He provided. The congregation, while respecting the memory of their beloved former pastor, became the family of God to us. My husband gained experience in being a solo pastor.
But, for me, the biggest human beacon of grace was Emily. Women in similarcircumstances might resent the 20-something pastor who came to replace her husband. Instead, she was full of grace. While we were living with her, she treated us as honored guests. She gave us insights into people in the congregation that it would take years of study to acquire otherwise. Emily and her husband started retirement by starting this church. Emily never really retired from ministry.
You can't fill another woman's shoes, but you can follow in the footsteps of a Christ-like life. I have a long way to go to reach her level of faithfulness, but I am grateful for what Emily taught me.
- The mature can be patient with the immature. In those days, I was naive about the amount of self-sacrifice the ministry entails, but Emily gently led me despite my immaturity. Her example of dying to self helped me when I was called upon to do the same.
- As long as you have life and breath, you should serve God. Emily had her share of limiting circumstances, but she didn't give in to self-pity.
- When you trust God with all aspects of your life, you can be generous with your time and money. Emily gave herself away to those who needed her. She supported missionaries. She made lavish meals and table settings that were a delight for the senses.
- Pray for the advancement of God's Kingdom, even if you are not getting the attention. Emily was a prayer warrior for all those who were spreading the Gospel. She wasn't jealous of the success of others; she praised God for it.
- God is faithful to the end. Emily is with the Lord, now, and I am thankful that He enabled her to touch my life.