Yesterday in the church lobby, Sharon greeted me with the affectionate hug, warm smile, and cheery hello that is so characteristic of my sister-in-law. However, her typical greeting revealed nothing of her not-so-typical day. It was her wedding anniversary. Dave and Sharon Pyle would have celebrated 34 years of marriage. Yes, I meant to say, “would have celebrated,” because the truth is that Sharon commemorated the day without Dave. She lost him to cancer a little over 2 years ago.
When I asked her how she was doing, her response was: “I am doing okay,” with the emphasis on “okay.” But that wasn’t the whole of her answer. She immediately launched into a mini discourse of her experience of God’s grace despite her intense pain (again, so typical of Sharon). “Today was my first Sunday as a greeter,” she exclaimed. (She had recently signed up to serve on the greeting team at our church). She continued, “I see it as God’s kindness to assign me to greet others on a day that would potentially be extra difficult for me. I couldn’t have done it in my own strength, but God gave me strength!”
As I listened to Sharon, I couldn’t help but think of Isaiah 58:10: “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” Sharon experienced the joy that unseats darkness and gloom when we pour out our lives for others.
I was freshly challenged yesterday by my sister-in-law’s example. Because I know me—all too often when I feel depressed and gloomy, I give in to selfishness. But I want to be more like Sharon. I desire to look for ways to serve others even when it’s the very last thing I feel like doing. Now I agree with Sharon: this is only possible with God’s help. And God’s help has been richly, fully, and wonderfully provided through our Savior’s death on the cross. Because of His grace, I am forgiven of my selfishness and have power to sacrificially care for others.
P.S. Sharon, if you happen to read this today I want you to know: You are one of my heroes. Thank you for modeling true servanthood to me!