If you love me, feed my sheep

In October my mother left us for her heavenly home. The scriptures suggest that the instant we are absent from this body we are present with Christ. That is a moment she had been waiting decades for. That may sound dramatic to you, but I don’t remember a time when my mother didn’t struggle with health issues. During my childhood she had constant respiratory infections that impeded her life. I remember her crawling to the bathroom because a sinus infection had gotten so bad that the vertigo made walking impossible. Scar tissue from decades of respiratory infections caused the bronchiectasis and COPD that eventually suffocated her to death. A degenerative bone disease resulting in 17 surgeries on her back and neck made travel impossible for Mom, who dreamed of traveling the world to share the gospel. If anyone deserved a pass on serving the Church it was she. Yet, as I wrote her obituary I was amazed at the number of ministries she lead, classes she taught, missions she supported, books she wrote, individuals she mentored and letters of encouragement she sent all while teaching special ed. students, being a supportive pastor’s wife and a mother of 3. Don’t get the impression that she was super human and made all of this look easy. It was a struggle, but God always enabled her to achieve what He had called her to do. Because she was faithful to say yes, He completed the work through her.

Early in their marriage, Mom personally mentored several of the young ladies in my father’s college ministry. One student came by our house almost daily to talk with Mom about her problems and ask for advice. Running a household with two children still in diapers, Mom did not exactly have the time for the frequent visits and was considering asking the young lady to limit them. The next time the young student saw my mother she explained, “I know it must be hard on you to have me come by every day, but my home life is so awful, that I need to experience the peace of your home before I am able to face mine own”. I am still friends with this person and can joyfully say that she has broken the cycle of violence and degradation in her family to raise 6 godly children in a peaceful home with her husband of almost 35 years.

A local juvenal judge in Shreveport knew of my parents’ heart for young people and would frequently ask them to take in a teenager that he felt was better than the crime he had committed. Mom was not thrilled about bringing a juvenal delinquent into her home with young children, but when God confirmed it through prayer, she lovingly cared for them one after another.

Throughout her life a consistent question was raised by those she mentored – How do you hear from God so clearly? So God instructed mom to write a series of books helping others learn how to hear His voice and recognize His activity in their lives. Though her hands had become severely deformed and crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, she answered, “Yes Lord”. Her ability to type was little better than picking out the keys with her index fingers, but when God called her to do something, she did not hesitate to obey.

During the last 6 years of her life the pain from her degenerating spine made sleeping through the night all but impossible. So she began a new ministry during her hours of solitude in the middle of the night. She started packing Christmas boxes for children in the third world. This helped take her mind off of her own pain by focusing on the needs of others. Each box was carefully packed with the toys and goodies she collected throughout the year. Then a handwritten note was painfully penned with arthritic hands and she prayed over each child who would receive the box.

In the end she could expect nothing less than for her Savior to say… “Well done, my good and faithful servant…Come and share in your master’s happiness.”

What are you doing to serve the Church? What specific ministries are you involved in that are building the Kingdom of God? What excuses are you using to remain disobedient to Christ’s instruction to build His Church? I’ve just run out of mine.

Pastor Jonathan