A Tale of Two Sisters
“Do everything without complaining or disputing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.“
– Philippians 2:14-15
Among the many blessings of being in ministry at First Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina was the opportunity to minister to senior adults. Their life stories, their religious journeys, and their enduring faith were often fascinating and inspiring. I found the lives and the faith of two petite, elderly sisters, Christine and Edna, to be particularly interesting and worth sharing.
First, their story. It was a hot summer day, and the two young sisters were excited to be riding to the beach with her uncle. The uncle stopped at a filling station for gas. Two young boys came out to put in gas and wash the windshield. Christine felt that one of the boys kept glancing at her furtively. She whispered to Edna, “Let’s play a pretend game. When we are grown you marry that boy, and I marry the other one.” They continued on with their fantasy as they rode toward the beach.
Years later, after Christine and Edna had been married for some time, Christine was standing at her kitchen sink looking out the window and remembering the trip to the beach and the stop at the filling station. Suddenly her curiosity was piqued. She quickly telephoned her husband to ask if he and his brother had ever worked at a filling station as young boys. Yes, in fact they had, he said, and told her the location.
You see, Christine and Edna had married two brothers, the Nordan brothers. The same two that worked at the filling station, and whom they had pretended to marry as small girls.
Now, about their faith. The scripture verse above says we are not to complain, but to be a shining star to others. Approaching eighty years of age, Christine had lost her husband and had become frail. When she was admitted to the hospital, rather than focusing on her condition or complaining about hospital food, I observed that she spent most of her time telling hospital staff about Jesus and asking about their faith.
Then there was the time that the city government had employee appreciation day and allowed citizens to spend the day with a city employee. Christine, now eighty years old and frail, standing barely four feet eleven inches tall, asked to spend the day with the garbage collectors. She wanted them to feel appreciated, and that they were important. 1 Peter 2:17 says, “Honor all people.” When offered a seat inside the garbage truck, she chose instead to ride outside on a small platform as the workers did. Local television stations captured the picture of this diminutive woman in her white coveralls perched on a small platform, clinging to a pole, on the side of the huge garbage truck as it bounced down the street. As the above scripture says, her love and compassion for the mostly ignored garbage workers shone “like the stars in heaven.”
When Edna lost her husband and could no longer maintain her home, she had to move into a single room in an elderly care facility, I asked her how she liked her new quarters. She said she liked them. I began to ask her details about her room. She indicated that she had not yet seen her room, but she had decided beforehand that she was going to like it. Her predisposition when facing life was not to complain but to be grateful.
We can find much to complain about in today’s world, or we can predetermine that we will have a grateful heart and recognize that God’s blessings always far exceed whatever trials we are enduring. We can choose to be like the apostle Paul who said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself.”
Pray: Lord, please grant me a grateful heart so that when adversity comes, I will not complain. Help me to remember the vastness of Your unceasing provision and blessings so that any difficulties I encounter will seem minuscule in comparison. Grant me the ability to help others remember Your countless blessings when they experience difficult circumstances. Amen
Rev. Jerry Parker
Retired Associate Pastor