September 2021

An Angel in Disguise

The Lord, in His infinite wisdom and lovingkindness, gave me to a prophet and his queen, and I learned to love His Word and to think of others more than myself. I knew the sweet mystery of reverent affection for my father, and it was my mother who showed me how to be a student. A life-long student herself, she doesn’t face a day that does not also hold the fascination of making a new discovery.

She turned 80 today. My husband, my siblings, and their spouses took her to lunch to celebrate and give honor to her, as is appropriate. Her presence with us in these golden years of her life is a source of gladness and joy, and today I want to pay tribute to her and the place she holds in the lives of so many people.

Typical of many Southern women of her generation, warm and creative hospitality comes as naturally to her as breathing. Even now, when her energy is waning, her desire to “fix you a little something to eat and drink” strengthens her and makes her smile. Her gladness that you have come simply demands that she make room for you.

She is one who has purposed with intentionality to love the person in front of her, whether friend or stranger, and her interest in their stories is genuine. I often hear her speak of someone she has met in the store or even over the phone (yes, she speaks to those strangers who call to get your answers to a survey), and she will talk about who they live with, what challenges they are facing, or what successes they are experiencing. She actually does take each encounter personally, believing the Lord specifically brought them into her path, and it becomes her sole responsibility to make them feel loved, accepted and validated. Very few people who have ever encountered her piercing inspection come away unmarked, and many will say that she is one of the kindest people they know.

An avid reader of most genres, her favorite, by far, is biography. It’s the stories of real people that most pique her interest. She can recall, often in great detail, events and lives that have left an imprint on the fabric of human history, and she sees the hand of God in all of it and them. She speaks of the “scarlet thread” of God’s love that is woven into the tapestry of life on planet Earth.

The love of God is without respect to value, as it is His nature and not dependent on the attractiveness or unattractiveness of its object. Mysteriously, that same love gives value, and when that value is perceived, a response must be given. The old Christmas hymn, O Holy Night, comes to mind: “when the soul felt its worth.”

I believe my mother has somehow always known that every soul should feel its worth, and she is grateful that she can be part of God’s kind intention that they should do so.

Happy Birthday, mom. Thank you for teaching me to be a student of God’s Word and a student of others, looking with eager anticipation toward the discovery of His love, His person, and His handiwork in their lives.

And you, dear friends, thank you for being on this journey with me. This week, as you think of the people God has placed in your life, pray for them that they should know their value in the love of God.

Until next week, beloved, love the person in front of you, whether friend or stranger. Who knows but that they may be an angel in disguise.

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