Yesterday at the funeral of a dear friend’s mother I had an opportunity to thank Joyce for greatly influencing the course of my life. She seemed stunned to hear that she is one of my greatest role models.
I grew up in church, attending every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night—pretty much every time the doors opened. After hearing hundreds of Bible lessons, I sat under this woman’s teaching and was finally not bored but positively excited. Her presentations perfectly united God’s gifting and power with her hard work in study and preparation.
I have been blessed to sit under other greatly gifted teachers since that time, but she was the first passionate and knowledgable woman Bible teacher I ever heard. Because of her influence, I started leading Bible studies a couple of years later after a move to Dallas, eventually ending up with a seminary degree and working on two church staffs.
Although I am sure that God could have used others to get me to the same place, she was the one he used to get my attention as to what my future could look like as I served him.
At the funeral were also several friends from some of the early classes I taught. Because we are no longer at the same church, our paths seldom cross. A couple of them told those standing nearby that I had been one of their first Bible teachers. God seemed to be pointing out the reach of one woman’s influence—Joyce’s over me extending to others whom she doesn’t even know.
This encounter reignited my excitement about serving God and doing his kingdom work, and I hope it encourages you to persevere as you follow his call on your life. God never slumbers or sleeps. He is at work through his people, and our efforts for the kingdom do make a difference, even if we never know how or with whom.
At this point Joyce is probably about 80 years old, and this was likely my last chance to tell her what a difference she made in my life. But if I had missed it, there would be a day in heaven for us to catch up and for me to thank her for letting God use her to use me.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I plan to take time this week to think back and remember other Joyces in my life so that I can not only thank God for them, but if possible, thank them as well.
What about you? Do you have a similar story? Please share it.