Saturday, April 5, 2008

Faithfulness

Michelle at In the Life of a Child gave me this faithfulness award a few days ago. Thanks, my faithful sister-by-heart!




Now. To pass it along. Among the many faithful friends God has given me, no woman in my life (aside from my dear, sweet mommy) personifies faithfulness to me like my Velma does.

Velma doesn't have a public blog (yet), but I did find this story about her childhood. Check it out.

When we first came to the church that is now our close-knit family, Velma taught Sunday School to my then two-year-old son, James.

James didn't like to be left in the toddler room. He screamed a lot. Velma could calm him down. When I went to pick him up after church, she always looked right at me with eyes full of love and talked to me as if we were already family.

One Sunday, Velma led worship, incorporating, as a solo, the beautiful song He Knows My Name. Before she sang, she explained a bit about her name. She'd been named after her Aunt Velma, a woman she dearly loved and admired. But to most people, Velma's name was unfamiliar. Whenever she told people her name, they'd cock their ear as if they hadn't heard her and question back, "Thelma?"

"No, it's Velma."

"Wilma?"

"No, VELma. With a V."

"Velma?"

"Yes."

"Velma... what an unusual name..."

Velma took great comfort in knowing that even though so many people butchered her name all the time, her heavenly Father never did. He knew her name. He knew everything about her, and He loved her. That was all that mattered.

As Velma began to sing, I pondered her little testimony, knowing in my head that the same was true about me, that God knew my name and everything about me, and that He loved me. I wished I could get that message through to my heart, and I was drawn to this woman, whose heart indeed knew what she shared so eloquently.

A few months later, when we'd been at our church for a little less than a year, God brought me to a turning point in my life. It became apparent that I needed to make some major changes, and I began taking a course which would help me along my path. One of the course requirements was that I find a mentor at my local church.

I approached one of our elders and asked if Laurel had a mentoring program of any kind. Turns out they had just launched a new team called the Women's Nurturing Team. I was put in touch with one of the ladies from the team, who met me for coffee and asked what I was looking for in a mentor.

I told her my mentor had to be an emailer, because I wasn't a phone person, and I didn't like to hang out in public places or go out and 'do something'. Velma was the only emailer on the nurturing team, which made their decision about whom to place me with fairly easy.

My course work specified that for at least 30 days, my mentor and I needed to remain in daily contact. Velma and I set up a system. Each day I would email and tell her how things were going, and if I didn't write by 4 pm, she should find out why.

Thus began the process of God's digging into my life. As soon as one issue seemed to be worked through and hashed into minutia with Velma, another issue would pop up and take its place. My need for daily accountability lasted much longer than 30 days as God began a major overhaul on my life which routinely left me exhausted and shredded - depending on how much I resisted Him. After several months, daily communication between Velma and me was simply a habit - a very welcome habit.

That daily contact began three years and almost nine months ago. Which means Velma has faithfully kept in everyday communication with me for 1,345 days (give or take a vacation day or two). She has faithfully listened to every single trial in my life for 1,345 days. She has faithfully given me wisdom, Scripture, love, care, concern, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, laughter, joy, sympathy, understanding, gentle admonition, perspective and courage for 1,345 days. And I'm certain she has faithfully lifted me up to God in prayer for 1,345 consecutive days.

During these past 3.75 years, Velma has witnessed firsthand how God has lifted me out of my miry clay and set my feet upon the Rock, making my footsteps firm. He has put a new song in my heart, a song of praise to my God. My hope is that many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Did God need Velma to help Him accomplish this transformation? Of course not. But for years and years, He crafted and shaped her own life in such a way that she is perfectly suited to the task of helping Him craft and shape mine. He made her a vessel of His faithfulness. And she answered the call.

So you can see why Velma deserves this award.

The best thing about Velma is that she'll read this blog post and immediately focus the attention and praise onto God. I know she'll do that because that's where she's been focusing my attention for the past 1,345 days. Onto God. The God who knows her name. The God who, I now believe with my heart, knows my name. And the God whose grace in my life allows me to call Him by my favorite name for Him:

Abba.