Tuesday, September 30, 2014
My Mother Was A Serial Soul Winner
Daddy was a preacher and pastor but I used to watch my mom (Ma) win the hearts of everyone she met, sometimes with no more than a 50 cent bag of homemade oatmeal cookies. When I was in second grade in Riverside Ma was a substitute teacher. My prayer was always ‘Lord, please don’t let my everyday teacher get sick.’ It made my heart race to contemplate Ma being in charge of my classroom. You see, I had seen Ma at church, at the gas station and the grocery store. She would shake the hands of people nobody else wanted to touch and would always, always say something to make them feel better about themselves. She’d say, ‘You’re going to be alright or where did you get those beautiful teeth’---and then she would slay them with that bag of 50cent homemade oatmeal cookies she was selling for our church. Most times she refused to let them pay for them and many would insist on buying two or three bags anyhow. One day I was legitimately absent from school and Ma substituted for the teacher in the classroom next door to mine. When I returned to school I heard that class next door singing Ma’s song. “Smile a while and give your face a rest, stand up straight and elevate your chest. Reach your hands to someone near, shake their hand and smile.” I knew Ma had been there and I suspected that a trail of cookie crumbs was somewhere nearby. I remember as a teenager Ma singing “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” one evening when the car broke down on the freeway. There were no cell phones then and of course my siblings and I were highly embarrassed when Ma got out the car and began to sing until the help came. One thing is certain--- her song of praise brought the help we needed and that stranger who pulled over and got us back on the road received a huge return on his investment. I don’t remember Ma's exact words to him but I know when Ma got done talking to him he stood a few feet taller. Even in Ma’s final days here when she was blind and bedbound I remember the sounds of nurses and aids and friends, old and new laughing in her bedroom and then remarking upon exiting, “Unbelievable. She cheered ME up”. Without question Ma left a trail of sweets (tasty words and deeds) that won many souls for Christ and which inspire me even today. This morning I find myself in the middle of a soul-check and I’m wondering what kind of trail have I left behind. The glorious thing about maturing is realizing that it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. It’s not about the money, the titles, awards, the degrees, the books or earthly pursuits of any kind. No, it’s about keeping a stash of fruity, tasty words and deeds and freely dropping them wherever you go—a little love here, a little joy there, a little peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faith. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23) DEAR LORD, THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE GOOD SENSE TO CHOOSE TO LEAVE A TRAIL THAT WILL ULTIMATELY LEAD PEOPLE TO YOU. THANK YOU FOR THE WILL TO PLEASE YOU WITH ALL I SAY OR DO. IN JESUS’S NAME I PRAY, AMEN.