This week we unexpectedly lost a very dear woman in our church. Her name is Betty. If there was ever a person who changed the course of history, she did. I’ve never known anyone who exemplified a more Godly life. No, you probably have never heard of her, but she may have prayed for you.
Having experienced one of the most crushing blows one can suffer in this life when she lost a precious son a few years ago, she rose from the ashes of grief to a place of beauty and strength.
Here in this time of great uncertainty, losing her is devastating. We needed her constancy and her encouragement. We can’t imagine life without her. But the legacy she leaves us is a strong one.
Here is what I believe Betty left us that will help us especially in these days.
First, she was a woman who was often on her knees. If you asked her to pray, you didn’t have to wonder if she would. The next time you saw her, she would ask about your request. She has prayed our family through many difficult trials and made a huge investment in our lives through those prayers. If we ever needed folks to be faithful in prayer, it is today as we face this COVID-19 pandemic. The days are long past to say we will pray and move on to some seemingly more exciting endeavor. It is time to be faithful in prayer as Betty was.
Second, Betty was present with you. I recently watched the movie, It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It was said of Mr. Rogers that he was fully present for every person with whom he spoke. That was Betty. She was never distracted when speaking with you. After a conversation with her, you knew you were heard. Today, people are hurting and one of the most important things we can do for them is to be fully engaged, listen, and not distracted by our own agenda. People need to talk about their fears and anxieties. Even with social distancing, we can be present on the phone or at a safe distance.
Third, Betty was selfless and kind to her husband, children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, anyone who knew her and many who didn’t know her. I once commented on how much I loved a little costume jewelry pin of a bird that she wore. Later that day, she placed something in my hand. It was the pin. “I can’t take this,” I said in shock. “Yes, you must. I want to give it to you,” she said. It’s one of the most treasured things I own, not because of its monetary value, but it’s heart value. Her kindness was exemplified in so many ways from making sure my husband received a couple of her famous pecan squares to take home with him after a covered dish dinner to waiting at a church door every Sunday for a lady with a handicap so that Betty could help her safely into the building.
These are the days to give for others. So sad for those who are hoarding resources desperately needed by the medical community. But thank God for those who are trying to meet a million mask challenge to make medical masks for our doctors and nurses. If you don’t know about this. HERE is more info. Thank God for those who are giving selflessly.
Fourth, Betty was faithful in small things. She once told me as she was straightening up the church that her mother had taught her it’s a great privilege to serve in that way―that it was an honor to clean the house of God. Betty and her husband Reece were often the first to the church and the last to leave. Betty prepared communion, served as a greeter, and many other jobs. She brought a joy and reverence to each task. I have the last bulletin she gave me hanging in my office from just before the virus hit. It will remind me that these are the days to be faithful in small things, which often aren’t so small and to thank God for being able to serve Him in any capacity.
Fifth, Betty was a student of the Word. Her observations in small groups always gave us something to think about and you could know that those thoughts came from a lifelong study of the Bible. Today more than ever, we need to lean into God’s word and let it be a “lamp unto our feet.”
When Betty’s life was drifting between life and death, Jerry and I sat in a hospital parking lot praying, unable to enter the hospital because of COVID-19. On the ledge in front of me, a cardinal drank from a splash of water on the ledge. It was a female without the bright plumage of the male, and after it drank, it bathed. There didn’t seem enough water to do that, but somehow the bird seemed delighted in it―such a lovely thing to behold. Like the female cardinal, Betty was not flashy by the world’s standards, but she was incredibly beautiful, and also like it, she took delight in the smallest things. She was thankful in each and every blessing.
So, instead of complaining about our challenges, let’s be grateful for the blessings we have.
To say I’m going to miss Betty is a great understatement. She was often the first face I saw when entering our church.
But as she did, we must rise out of our grief and be faithful to our own callings. Especially in these days.
The challenge is before us. Let’s all be like Betty who aimed to be like Jesus.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” Psalm 119:15.
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