Dust in the air suspendedT.S Eliot
Marks the place where a story ended.
Hebrews talks about how we have a “great cloud of witnesses”, saints gone before us whose example ought to urge us on to “throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us” so we might finish this race of faith well.
I have the great privilege of having a legacy of great saints in my family. Men and women whose faith impacted me at a very young age. One of the many was my great auntie.
Recently she left behind this earth to finally be home. Her life was one of relative obscurity, she was no famous woman, no news making figure, she was single her whole life and so left behind no children. And yet, I suspect when she finally had the moment of meeting her Savior face-to-face he uttered those words, “well done, my good and faithful servant”.
And though she had no children of her own, the fruits of her life undoubtedly impacted a host of children in the faith. She certainly impacted me.
At 25, my auntie received the call to live her life on the mission field. With great bravery she set out in 1960 for Zambia, Africa, knowing she would not have the opportunity to see her home again for at least five years, with only letters for correspondence. She served there 33 years, 10 of which were lived in the deep bush at a Bible school, later on a compound caring for missionaries coming and going from the field. She fed and cared for so many people. I was given the giant pot she used on many such occasions (it’s so large my toddler uses it as a tiny pool in the summer).
I remember as a young child excitedly receiving her letters–she was so faithful to always reply to mine–her cursive adorned the back of a post cards featuring elephants and zebras. She’d relate exciting stories and would always inquire into my life, as though my eight-year-old musings were her greatest treasure to receive.
When she retired and moved back to the States I remember many a conversation over books we were reading, political happenings, and faith. Her life impacted me so much that in college I applied to serve in Malawi, Africa as an intern. I nervously submitted my application, thinking of her bravery accepting the Lord’s will whatever may come.
Even now, though I’m not serving overseas, I think of her courage in saying goodbye to the family she dearly loved, willing to go wherever the Lord took her because she understood so well that this world is not our home. Her courage inspires me to gladly move over and over again despite the heartache of saying goodbye, because if she could trust the Lord’s leading her, so can I.
My auntie was a woman of faith, a willing and joyful servant of the God she loved so dearly. Her example has shaped my own faith in ways I’m not even able to articulate.
She didn’t leave behind a legacy of children or fame, but she left behind a legacy nonetheless. Her legacy was a life well-lived, a woman who fought the good fight of faith until her very last days. A woman who gave her “best” years to the mission field, and loved her Savior until her very last breath.
Why do I share this with you? I believe my aunt was a woman who ought to be honored. In a world that often only sees the glitter of fame, hears only the loudest voices, and looks at markers of success in money and numbers, my beautiful, shy, and single aunt goes unnoticed, but not by her God. And that, I believe, is something we all need to remember. Our acts of faith: when we love people well, serve the least, and obey our God, will largely go unnoticed by the world, but that doesn’t make them insignificant. In fact, I think it is the unnoticed people who will hold the greatest honor in heaven, because that’s how God’s economy works. He honors the least of these, gives the kingdom to the meek, puts the first last and the last first. Often his greatest saints go unnoticed by the world, but he doesn’t miss a moment of their glad and faithful service to him.
In a world full of celebrity culture, I want to be like my beautiful aunt. Her name was Jewel, and that’s exactly what she was, a treasure of whom the world was not worthy.