In my previous post I wrote about my mother’s Aunt Olive, and her husband Frank. During the summer months when I was in my late teens, I used to spend time with them after mowing their lawn each week. The conversations, which turned into bible studies, often gave me something to think about until the next time I visited with them.
Frank was in his nineties, and always had bits of wisdom to share with me. He talked often about reading the Bible. One day I asked if he read it every day. “Yes,” he said.
“How can you read that every day for all of these years?” I asked.
“Every day I learn something new,” he said. I didn’t understand how a person could read the same words over so many years (I had guessed at least 70 years) and not get bored.
“The Bible says that ‘God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path,” Frank continued. “Each day I get a new perspective on things in His word.”
Over the years I have often thought of Frank and that lesson he taught me so many years ago. I have grown to understand what he meant, as I too have read the same scriptures but have gotten a different meaning out of them. As the seasons of my life change, so do my needs in life. God somehow uses the same words to give me exactly what I need to understand, no matter what the season is.
It was so appropriate (co-incidence? I don’t think so) that today in church I heard a sermon very close to that lesson from Frank. The Reverend was speaking about growth. More specifically, that even if we have been Christians for many years, we still need to grow. We need to move in our faith, reaching for new directions, new and better understanding of God’s principle for our lives. As the Reverend spoke, my thoughts turned to Frank.
Frank understood about growing in faith. He knew that sometimes as Christians, we get stagnant in our walk. We let the same old thing be the same old thing. We read the same scriptures and think of the same meanings. But Frank got it. He was able to move past the obstacles that keep us in the same place in our spirituality. Frank continued to grow every day, even as he got on in age, when most people “retire” from such things.
Olive and Frank were spiritual mentors for me, in a time of my life when big changes were occurring. I was getting ready to head off to college in Florida, almost 2000 miles away from my home. I had big dreams and plans for my life back then. Saying goodbye to Olive and Frank was hard for me. Even though we never said it out loud, the three of us knew that I may not see them again.
They wrote to me while I was away at college, typed on a typewriter because their penmanship had gotten so poor. And soon afterward they both had to be placed in a nursing home, where they eventually passed on. They had married “late in life” according to most people’s definition (Olive was 67 and Frank was in his seventies), yet even so, God blessed them with long life so that they could enjoy it together. Frank was 104 when he went to meet his Creator.
The other day I was looking through a box of old pictures, and I came upon a letter that they had written to me. I don’t remember receiving it, but I am so glad that I saved it. What a treasure to find after all of this time. The words still ring true to me today. Words of wisdom from two very special people in my life, who I am able to honor through this blog 27 years later.
Here it is:
“June six, nineteen hundred and eighty-four.
Dear Little ‘Cindy:’
You are now standing upon the threshold of a new and beautiful career and it depends upon yourself to make it a happy and successful one — but only if you place all of your trust and confidence in Jesus, who loves you as no one else in the whole world can love you.
If you can do His work and be pleasing to Him, then you have already conquered life’s challenges and need have no fear of any undertaking so long as you do everything to please Him…..to please this world is impossible, and furthermore, the world should not enter into your career, you will find it a harsh and cruel world at times, but just keep hold of Jesus’ hand and you will conquer.
I wish I had more time to tell you all about the volumes of things you will encounter — some good and some very harsh, but so long as you do not forget to see Jesus in all things and do the will of God, you will never fail nor be hurt.
I would like to write volumes more, but time won’t permit, so God bless you, Dear, and best of luck.” — Olive and Frank.
There was also a post script:
“Always keep in mind God loves you (underlined). I do not need to tell you to always be the dear, sweet girl that you are!” — Olive.
Of course when I read that letter, after so much time had passed, the tears were unavoidable. My journey through this life so far has brought me to many places. Just as Olive and Frank wrote, the world has been “harsh” at times. But I still rely on the faith that the three of us spoke about during our visits. I still see Frank holding his Bible, and hear Olive’s sweet voice speaking to me about God’s love versus the “cruel” world.
“Each day brings something new,” Frank would say.
A lesson for life. May we all continue to learn it.