She had on a bright red sweater accompanied by a beautiful smile. As she walked by our table she waved her hand and said, “Hello there. Merry Christmas. You have the most beautiful face!”
She talked quickly, asking a few questions as she in her own way got to know us. She laughed with almost every word. I could not help but recognize her joy. It bubbled over.
She shared her faith simply by sharing herself. A kind word. A big smile. And, lots of joy. The kind you just know comes from a heart for Jesus.
As we talked, we learned that she was a cancer survivor. She shared how hard it was for her not to spread joy after knowing God had spared her life. She told of how each day she lay on her bed, deathly ill and cried out to HIM. She adamantly said HE saved her. I loved it when she said with a smile, “If you don’t believe…”
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
This sweet lady believed.
She believed in the miracle of life and hope and joy.
She believed in sharing and caring and celebrating.
She believed in her mission and reason and passion.
Yes, she believed in God’s plan and purpose for her life. Much of which we learned, in just a brief visit, had not been easy.
She told us of the Bible’s teaching to kneel before the Lord and how she would do just that. Kneeling in HIS great presence as she often cried ‘tears as big as lima beans‘, but knew HE heard her.
She not only survived cancer, but soon after knew her reason for living was to encourage her daughter to survive cancer. Yes, her daughter was diagnosed just as she was confirmed cancer free. Just this past Mother’s Day she told of a celebratory beach trip where they wrote their stories in the sand.
I especially loved that she would raise her hands as she spoke of God’s glory in her life. It was natural and spontaneous for her. Her eyes danced as she did it.
During our visit, she also shared of her husband’s hard work and accomplishments. And, his life tragedy. Losing his job after many years of success which soon after led to a stroke and death. No, she didn’t seem bitter, just a bit sad and melancholy. She encouraged us to work hard, but spend wisely and make each moment count in life. Because life can change.
She often tried to turn the conversation back to us, but really, her story was so magnetic. Drawing both me and my husband in as she gently touched our shoulder or offered a smile.
As she turned to go, I told her of plans to travel soon and she immediately stopped and prayed for me and our mission team. Praying for strangers was just an everyday thing for her.
She headed towards the door, telling us that she was on the way to take soup to her friend who had the flu, introducing herself before turning to go.
Her name was Martha. Don’t you love that?
Of course, we laughed as we watched her stop for a few more minutes to tell the lady behind her how pretty her hair was.
Perhaps God sent Martha as a beautiful reminder that everyone has a story. And, reason to celebrate.
Maybe, in this season of Advent, as we wait and anticipate Jesus, it is the perfect season to share our story. Could that not be the perfect gift? To be real and to be honest and to be vulnerable and to be joyful despite the scars left from this life?
That somehow in a cold, hard, dark world we could give the gift of truth and light to others?
Yes, Martha blessed us with the best gift this season.
She shared her heart.
Told her story.
And, gave God the glory.
In the kindest, most genuine way.
With a true love for the Lord that resonated with every word.
Believing that HE is faithful.
She gave two tired, stressed parents a reason to smile.
By shining her light in her own little corner of the world, she also touched ours.
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
How would our world look this Christmas season if we all did the same?
Thank you, Martha.
Your precious light is brighter than any on my tree.
It shines bright with deep faith and ‘belief‘ in the One you love.
And, far outreaches the little restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama where I met you.
It’s simply eternal.
And, that pure joy that bubbles over when you smile and talk. Well, that is possibly the greatest thing I have seen in some time.
True Jesus Joy.
Right here at Christmas.
What a blessing.
“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” John 1:9
We praise you, Lord for the true light you sent that gives light to every man. Jesus, our precious Savior. Father, for his great gift of grace, love and mercy, we are eternally grateful. Help us to be the light in this dark world. So others would see HIM in us and you would be glorified. In HIS holy and precious name we pray. Amen.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash