This was written by my friend, Shirley Mcmillan, under the name of "Pearl." Shirley is now Director of the Foster Grandparents Program at Ouachita Baptist University. She is, herself, one of these Saints spoken of.
(By Shirley McMillan)
"I beg your pardon! I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there's gotta be a little rain sometime." The words of this song came to mind as I reflected back on my first Sunday as substitute teacher in the More Mature Women's class several weeks ago. I was a bit apprehensive of showing up to "teach" this group of women who "knew me when I was yet in my mother's womb" (including my mother, herself)!
What could I teach them about Habakkuk's message of living by faith? They already knew the life applications of the scripture: that "you can bring your questions and doubts to the Lord"; that "you can trust God in any and all circumstances"; that "you need patience to wait upon the fulfillment of God's promises". I think I learned more than they did that day.
As I've heard various Christians say from time to time, "My life is my witness", I have thought "what a cop-out!" That is, until I recalled life experiences of these ladies who had helped raise me through the years. I sat and wrote the following tribute to these saints whose lives have been an open book of faith.
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (Hab. 3:17-18)
Although my daughter was killed, I will rejoice in the Lord.
Though my grandson died too young, the Lord saw me through it.
Though my son took his life, God gives me the strength to face tomorrow.
Though my husband is so dependent on me, and my own health is failing,
God is giving me the grace and courage to face life one day at a time.
Though my husband was an alcoholic, God never left me, and it all worked for good.
Though recuperation from surgery has been a long struggle, God has encouraged me through all my friends and with His presence.
Though life is lonely without my husband, God comforts and strengthens me.
Though my children seem to have gone astray, God assures me that He will complete the good work that He began in them.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." (Psalm 23:4)
"The sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights." (Hab. 3:19)
As I finished writing, I knew that life application #2 was the message for that day's lesson: "God's Word is not something to selfishly hoard." These women might not consider themselves "super Christians" with "edge of your seat" testimonies. But I beg your pardon! In this life of rain storms and thorny roses, their lives have spoken of God's faithfulness to continue shining into the dark corners. "And he that has the answer must run with it." (Hab. 2:2)