I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you[b] in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Philemon 1:4-7, NKJV
When I moved to Willows eighteen years ago, I decided I would check out some of the area churches and see which one seemed like the one God would call me to attend. I had attended a Methodist church in Phoenix, so the first one I tried was the Methodist church in my new community. As you can imagine, I felt a little lonely and somewhat out of place.
One of the first people I met was Gladys Barnett, a nearsighted, caring, inquisitive lady. She got in my face, literally, once I joined the rest of the group for coffee after the service. From scarce inches away she grilled me. Before I left she had my name, rank, and serial number along with details of where I lived, when had I arrived, who did I work for, and would I come back next Sunday?
And yet--she did it all so gently. All I knew for sure was that I had been welcomed. And yes, I came back--and stayed. Largely thanks to this lady who made it her business to refresh the saints.
Gladys passed away last Monday after several years of declining health. Our memories of her are fond ones, and we said goodbye in our church service. It only seemed fitting for this lady who had, over her long life in Willows, taught Sunday School; directed the Women's group as they put on numerous dinners, breakfasts, and rummage sales; made sure meals were delivered to those under the weather; sang in the choir; and held so many responsible positions in the church everyone has lost track. If anything was needed, it seemed like Gladys was there. Her love of God and others was evidenced in everything she did and said.
Rest in peace now, Gladys. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Lord, thank You for those people who seem to be everywhere and doing or encouraging others to make sure everything that needs doing gets done. Help us step in to aid those who do so much. For Jesus's sake and in His name, Amen.