The tables in the hall gleamed with china and glass. The church family smiled and chatted, all dressed in their “Sunday best.” The banquet, celebrating our friends’ many years of ministry, was about to begin. Then the M.C. asked everyone to take a seat and told us that this was our opportunity to honour the couple whose lives and ministry we were celebrating that evening.
One by one people went to the microphone to speak about what that couple had meant to them over the years. Most of it was complimentary and inspiring. But I remember what one young woman said. She smiled at her former pastor’s wife and said she was thankful to her for being an example of stylish dress.
I was stunned. Really? That’s it? I felt a kind of emptiness as the young woman sat down. And I thought, would you want that engraved on your tombstone? And it made me wonder, what will I be remembered for?
It also made me think of an interview I’d read with Malcolm Gladwell in which he talked about writing his latest book, David and Goliath. He interviewed Wilma Derksen, the mother of a young woman who was brutally murdered in Manitoba. As Wilma talked about forgiveness Malcolm Gladwell recognized something astounding in that woman – “to borrow that marvellous phrase from Pierre Sauvage— (it was) the “weapons of the spirit”—the peculiar and inexplicable power that comes from within” (Relevant Magazine).
I hope and pray that I end up like Wilma Derksen. I hope and pray that people see God’s Spirit in me day to day. Sometimes I despair of that being so, because I know my flawed nature all too well. There are many times when I know I have not exhibited the love and grace of God. But I hope, indeed, I do know, that as I have grown in Christ over the years, those days become fewer and fewer. I am being changed by the Spirit in me.
I often grab hold of these verses in Philippians 3:12-14 – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I am so thankful that God’s grace is new every morning and each day is another opportunity to get closer to Him, to read His word, to practise His presence and to watch for examples of how others are living for Him. That’s the only way to learn how to wield those “weapons of the spirit” Pierre Sauvage mentioned.
Those weapons are mighty. They can change us. They can change those around us. They can change the world. Those weapons of the Spirit are the key to being able to live for Christ. And they will produce in us something worthy of being written in stone.