We had known her in our comings and goings from church to church in the years before dad left mama, left us. She had a reputation, a reputation as a woman of God, a woman of prayer. And when she heard that our daddy had left, she made sure she called my mama, and then she made sure we had a ride to church. She loved us with her prayers, and she loved us by taking action. Her love changed my life forever.
Back in those days, divorce wasn't as common as the common cold. Divorce was even more unheard of in the church. But that little church took my mama, and the three of us kids that were left at home when dad left, under their wing. They taught us in their Sunday School classes, their youth group gatherings, their Sunday meetings, but also at their picnics, their campouts, and in their homes. They loved us and let us into their lives. The pastor praised us publicly when we did well, announcing from the pulpit when I made the honor roll, and he corrected us privately when we went astray, coming to my house and telling my mama his concerns when I began to date a boy that wasn't good enough for me. The people loved us as well. I still have the note that one of the young mamas in the church sent to me when I was in high school. She told me that God had a destiny and purpose for me, that I had a call on my life. I had never heard those words before. Like a key opening a door into a whole new world, her little note opened my eyes and heart to the future God had for me. That pastor's and those people's love and acceptance of us changed my life, our lives, forever. My sister, my brother, and myself are all, not only whole hearted lovers of God to this day, but all three of us are in full time ministry.
As I sit and write today's blog post, husband and I are away from home at an annual minister's meeting. Often the discussion at these types of events revolves around "doing church better"...finding better techniques to reach people, being more effective, being more relevant to our culture. But as I sit here, I am reminded of the words from 1 Corinthians chapter 13, "without love we are nothing", because, you see, it was love that changed my life forever. ..God's love and the love of His people.