I don’t normally piggyback one reflection on top of another but, this week, I felt lead to do that. I wrote Tuesday’s reflection on the subject of PERSEVERANCE and would like to follow up on that today. I grew up in a home where I saw my parents persevering through terrible health and practical problems due to a tragic car accident. Through it all, I saw my parents hang tight to their faith and trust God daily for strength, wisdom and steadfastness.
As a Pastor, I have witnessed so many fine Christians preserver as they too journeyed through obstacles that life put in their way. They have been examples, to me, and those around them of what a true living faith in Jesus is all about. This morning, I woke up to fog. Sometimes, faith is like trying to navigate in the fog. We cannot see things clearly but we must trust the Lord each step of the way. Again, His love and strength will see us through (Romans 8:35-39 NIV).
My brothers and sisters PERSEVERANCE IS SUCH A CRITICAL dynamic in the Believer’s life. I want to close with the following story of the life of Helen Steiner Rice’s journey. I hope this brings encouragement to you.
“Helen was blessed with devoted Christian parents and came to a personal faith in God as a child. Her desire was to totally surrendered to God’s will and be open to His guidance. Her life’s motto was simple – "Pray, listen, act". But being a Christian didn’t make her immune from the trials of life. While in high school, Helen’s father died and she decided not to go to college but to stay home and help her family.
Helen married at age 30, but after only two years her husband died tragically. It was a devastating blow and she struggled to understand. As a result, she went back to work, writing for a card company in Cincinnati. In spite of these hardships she did not lose her faith.
After writing for Gibson Greeting Cards for 30 years in obscurity, her life would suddenly change in 1960. A woman sent her poem, The Priceless Gift of Christmas, to her brother, an entertainer on the Lawrence Welk Show. He liked it and suggested it be included in their Christmas show. Mr. Welk agreed and it was recited before a national TV audience.
Helen was surprised by these events but her new-found fame didn’t change her life or faith. When asked why God had blessed her work so much she said, "Maybe because I have such an uncomplicated faith. I have no doubts about God or about His love for me. He gave His Son; I gave Him my life. And because I write, I gave that to Him too and He has taken my simple gift and multiplied it a millions times. He can accomplish miraculous things when we give ourselves to Him completely, without reservations or qualifications."
When she died in 1981, at the age of 80, she left behind a legacy of faith, inspiration, generosity and humility. She once wrote, "To me, death is just another step along the pathway of life." It gives us the great joy of heading happily towards the ultimate goal of every Christian, and that is to live forever in the unending sunshine of God’s love."”
Helen persevered through tremendous problems and heartaches because she never lost her focus and perspective. I close with the words of her poem “The Bend in the Road” that she wrote near the end of her life.
May they bless and empower you this day – He Loves you - Pastor Ralph
Sometimes we come to life's crossroads
And we view what we think is the end.
But God has a much wider vision
And he knows that it's only a bend-
The road will go on and get smoother
And after we've stopped for a rest,
The path that lies hidden beyond us
Is often the path that is best.
So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow-
You've just come to a bend in the road.