Nine years ago I said goodbye to my hero. She wasn't anyone famous or someone that the majority of you would recognize. But I watched her. I learned from her. And I was the better for it.
Her name was Sharon. I never called her that. I always called her Ma. (Sharon seemed too formal, and I loved her dearly.)
From the very first day I met her, I observed her every move, her every word. Ma was the first woman I had ever seen so closely that demonstrated the beauty of living the Biblical role of a wife and mother. I grew up in a non-Christian home, so it intrigued me. Oh, my family sometimes went to church and things, but this woman lived her Christianity every day. The more I saw Christ in her, the more closely I watched. It put a hunger in me because I saw the joy her family had. I wanted that.
I remember her cooking. She wasn't the greatest cook, but I never... ever... remember hearing her complain about having to cook for her family. (Oh, how I hate to cook!) She would even make special treats to surprise her family. Her chocolate chip cookies were amazing! And she would sit with her family and play games and laugh and joke. When I was younger, my family played games together once in a while. There were happy moments, but the majority of what I remember was tension and arguments and disagreements. I remember causing quite a bit of it, too. But this family was different. And Ma seemed to be right in the center of it all. I longed for that.
I remember a time when my Mom and I had a really strained relationship. I would smart off to my Mom on the phone, and I would turn to Ma looking for sympathy... only to find firm but loving rebuke and correction. Ma didn't take sides. She stood for what was right. I wanted a close relationship with my Mom, but I couldn't see the destructive behaviors I was displaying that kept my Mom at a distance. I remember Ma hugging me as I cried and hearing her say, "I love you. I am sorry you are hurting, but I don't ever want to hear you speak to your mother that way again. You must honor your mother." I hated those words... but I loved those words. I knew she was right. Now every time my Mom and I talk on the phone, laugh, and enjoy the fellowship a mother and daughter should, I think of the great deal of gratitude we both owe Ma.
I remember watching her gentleness with her boys. (Gentleness... with boys. Really? How is that possible?!) She didn't have to yell and scream. She didn't have to lose her temper. I remember how she loved her husband and served him. And I most of all remember how it brought her so much joy to do it! While I grumbled... she hummed or sang, smiled or laughed.
I remember as she went through cancer treatments. She was always thinking of others. Here was a woman... sick, tired, suffering... and she was focused on others. She would look for people in the waiting room at the cancer doctor's office to minister to and share Christ with.
So... what exactly was she doing?
Titus 2:3-5 "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
She didn't need a classroom or ladies fellowship or a podium and whiteboard. She didn't need a blog or Facebook... she LIVED it. It wasn't what she did. It wasn't what she just talked about. It was who she was. Christ had transformed her and she blossomed with joy because of it.
As I think about the sweet little brown faces and beautiful dark eyes that look at me during Sunday school class... as I think about the Bible college students who listen to me during my English class... as I think about the fish bowl we live in, where people are constantly staring and watching our every move... What do they see? What do they hear? Does my life give them a hunger for a Christ-centered home and life? Does my life build and restore relationships? Does my life teach people how to love and have joy?
Sometimes I get so caught up in teaching that I forget the greatest teaching I do isn't always from a podium or with flannelgraph. The greatest teaching I do is walking in the Spirit and letting my life shine Christ... abiding in Him.
John 15:4" Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
by Charity, Southern Asia