by Miriam Neff
©2008 Used with permission
The result: I spoke to 7 groups of widows from 20 to 200. I spoke in one church service where the men were the predominant note-takers. I spoke to one assembly of 5 churches which I thought would be a group of widows. (I quickly sorted my notes from the widow and her pot of oil to the transitions in Joshua’s life.) I delivered my message with five pastors sitting behind me in large impressive chairs. After listening intently to my teaching, one pastor issued their pronouncement: “It is good.”
I can only say simply, I was changed. I remembered Bob’s encouragement to me to accept my first speaking engagement after my first book was published. I was hesitant. He said, “Honey, they want to hear the person behind the book.” So I went reluctantly. This was different. A different woman emerged in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Open Bible, hungry learners, I was energized and embraced the opportunity.
A second change point occurred in the Dominican Republic. I was treasuring a week of rest and relaxation after four of the hardest years of my life. It was my first trip alone. While I had expected to rest and read, I found myself signing up for any and all activities; snorkeling, horseback riding and learning to sail a catamaran. Being the only single woman to sign up for solo sailing lessons, my instructor eyed me with little enthusiasm and told me where to plant myself on the canvas. My eager attitude was soon deflated. “You can’t learn this. I’ll take you for a ride and we’ll go back.”
“Wrong,” I thought.
On my fourth lesson (and after my requested change in instructors) my new instructor said those delightful words. “You can dump me now.” This meant he would jump off on the beach and I was on my own.
There are no words to describe being alone on that canvas, gripping the rudder, feeling the wind at your back, and racing out into the Atlantic! “Honey, can you see me?” I shouted to the sky. It was as if he answered, “You’ll do this and more, sweetheart, and I’m not surprised.”
Back home after I described my adventure to my family, my grandson asked, “Nana, weren’t you afraid?”
“No,” was my definite answer. “If I failed and drowned, I’d see God and Grandpa. If I succeed, I’ve sailed a catamaran—solo. Nana has nothing to lose.”
Yes, we have changed. As we get acquainted again you’ll discover that we believe Romans 8:28 with a new tenacity. We have new and relevant gifts to offer not in spite of, but rather because of our loss. We are bold because we have already faced death in a part of ourselves. We laugh at things many people fear and count blessings among the mundane events of an ordinary day. Invisible? Let’s change that. Welcoming the widows reflects the heart of God.
I was treasuring a week of rest and relaxation after four of the hardest years of my life.