29 January 2008

Let me be like Connie Reed when I grow up.

Tuesdays are good days. I look forward to them. I meet with a group of women for a bible study each Tuesday. This session we are doing a topical study on revival. I enjoy their perspectives, I enjoy their company, I enjoy studying the way the look and trying to imagine what they were like when they were younger. We range in age from the young and newly married to the widowed there with their adult daughters. I am new to the group and so I missed the history that came before. I missed the transitions these women have made, the trials and the celebrations. I think they all have stories that are worth noting. I think we all have lives that when you stop to look at them and ponder the intricate details.... are nothing short of amazing.

One of the women who attends the group is recovering from surgery. She had a suspicious mass and the unenviable position of being a nurse and knowing enough about what things looked like to be reasonably fearful of what the surgeons may, in fact, find. I asked her how she was and she began to tear up as she told me she was doing great and the results had come back with good news. Her tears were tears of gratitude. She told me she was a changed woman, having relied on prayer for the past weeks in a way she had never done before. Her testimony touched my heart. We talked briefly about the benefit of remembering the times that God has been faithful and merciful. Remembering is a good thing.

During a particularly tough time in my life, I was encouraged by an older woman who had a love for Jesus and missions work. She saw me struggling as a single parent and often invited me and my girls over to dinner, making certain there were other folks from the church there too. Dinners at Connie's house were a huge blessing, great fun and wonderful times of fellowship.

Connie was in her 80's. She had been widowed several years by the time I met her. She traveled the world in her twilight years, not because she was focused on entertainment, but because she was focused on saving souls. She went to the Philippines to stay with missionaries who worked and lived in the jungle. It was a 7 hour hike from the landing strip in the jungle to the village where the missionaries lived. She came back encouraging others to make the trip.

I can't remember all the missionary trips that Connie went on. I only remember that well into her 80's she was going- and none of them were easy destinations nor were the accommodations what you would expect a gray-haired saint to require. She slept on the floor in a sleeping bag when she went to Bosnia, or was that Romania? I can't be certain. I know that she went there with a group of college kids who soon loved her as much as I did.

Connie was the chair of the missions committee and she asked me to serve. What could I say but yes? My best friend had the honor of knowing Connie too. She and I have often said we wanted to be Connie when we grew up and I think I can speak for her when I say we still do. My best friend told me today that Connie is with Jesus now, having spent 100 years with us.

My thoughts now return to our women's bible study and wondering who among us is a Connie in the making? As we seek revival and remember God's faithfulness in all things, who among us will have the passion to live boldly for Him until our last breath? How do I find my passion and my purpose here like Connie found hers? From sunrise to sunset, Father, grant that I shall have the faith to make my life count- not for me but for Your kingdom. If it pleases you, Father, let me be like Connie when I grow up.

II Thessalonians 2:13-17
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word {of mouth} or by letter from us.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

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