She still wears a ring on her wrinkled hands, but she sits alone at the of the pew.
At the end of the pew, sitting with her hands folded on her lap, tattered Bible open to the text of the sermon, constantly turning pages to scripture even though her fingers don’t work quite like they used to.
At the end of the pew sits years of stories, experiences, heartaches, joy and other emotions we may never witness if we don’t get the chance.
At the end of the pew sits a worker and servant of the Lord. She doesn’t use health or age to determine the talents she is able to give to Kingdom work.
The end of the pew is even empty at times because she is in another town taking care of her older siblings, even though she has trouble herself sometimes.
There sits a dear sister, a modern version of Lois and Eunice, making little ones smile, young parents admire and older friends and family sigh at the greatness of the humility that sits alone…. at the end of the pew.
Recently, our little family was blessed to move to a small town in Northeast, AR to serve at the Leachville church of Christ. In a congregation of 50-75 members, the love is imminently present in all worship settings and service opportunities.
Recently, my 18 month old, Baileigh, has decided to start pacing the pew during the sermon. Sometimes she is quiet. Sometimes she isn’t. Just a few weeks ago, my heart was stirred and tears formed in my eyes as I witnessed the ultimate sweetness taking place between my daughter and the lady at the end of the pew.
We talk with this lady often and her genuine personality continuously humbles me. I have joked periodically with her about being our “baby gate” at the end of the pew so that my daughter doesn’t escape when Daddy is preaching.
Lately, Baileigh has sort of adopted this woman and accepted her as a sweet friend. She will walk out of reach from me and just babble on and on to this lady. My heart was humbled a few weeks ago when Baileigh was allowed to turn the pages of her tattered Bible. Then Baileigh held her hand and played with the ring on her hand. She looked and looked at her fingers, perhaps because years of hard work has made them look and feel a little different than Mommy’s hand.
But then our sweet friend leaned down and reached out her arms. Baileigh reached back and began to sit and relax in her lap. The ultimate contentment seen in that moment was enough to make my eyes water.
I learned two things that day, both goals that I personally want to work on:
- I learned a lesson from our older friend at the end of the pew. I learned that a gentle heart will bring others to you. Having an attitude of Christ and allowing the younger ones to come to you, whether they are 80 or 2 years younger, it matters and it builds family and community.
- I also learned a lesson from my sweet Baileigh girl. Just because you don’t know their life story, their struggles or the joys of another sister (or brother) in Christ, there is no excuse to leave them alone at the end of the pew. Challenge yourself to reach out of your comfort zone, meet them and spend time with them. Here’s a suggestion…SCOOT DOWN NEXT TO THEM!!! The light in their eyes when they feel your care and interest will bring them great peace and happiness.
She sat there restlessly, trying to keep her little girl at least PARTIALLY engaged in some activity. She just wanted her to stay quiet through the sermon so that she could catch just a glimpse of what the lesson was about.
She missed having her Bible open on her lap when she didn’t have to wrestle with keeping all of the pages together and deciding between goldfish, fruit snacks, and pretzel sticks in another attempt to keep the peace during the sermon.
She worried that her little girl was going to go under the pew or poke someone in front of them. She worried when her little girl wobbled out of her reach and went down to the elderly lady.
But then it all changed.
All the worry, all the stress and all the disarray disappeared when the elderly lady looked back at the woman with a smile and simply mouthed, “She’s just fine,” as she picked up the little girl and let her look at her Bible.
The worried one… was me. Shame on me for letting stress and chaos (at least to me) try to blind me from the beautiful love of God’s family.
Thank God for the women and for the men who live and love and teach and give.
Thank God for the lady…at the end of the pew.
“”For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her.”
Proverbs 8:11 (NASB)