Or should I say I am learning how to be a widow. It's not something we can ever plan, but that does not negate my responsibility to learn what it means. When I suddenly and abruptly became a widow last November 2017, I did not know what that looked like at all. I had to face moving toward my new normal, because my life was never going to be the same.
I needed help from time to time in understanding how to navigate this new and unknown road. One of my dearest friends, Pastor David Kauffman, directed me to read what the bible says about widows. Let me rephrase that; he directed me to read EVERYTHING the Bible says about widows, again and again to understand that Jesus cares for the widows. I did not hesitate to immerse myself in scripture. I have included several of them.
Mark 12:41-44 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Widow’s Offering
41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Today was a mile stone for me. The Holy Spirit led me to attend early service instead of the afternoon service I usually go to. Pastor was detailing accounts of a widow's life and why we give generously even when we may not have much to give.
As a widow, I approached my giving this morning in three steps. It should have taken me only one step but I am an apprentice.
First, I removed the bills from my wallet and placed them in the basket. I had some change, but thought "that's just change. It can't mean much." I know better than that! I always pick up the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that I find laying on the ground. I know that's good stewardship and I'm not embarrassed to pick them up.
Pastor, Kevin Wallace of Redemption to the Nations Church continued to shepherd the church body. Hearts were being stirred in people that had never given before. They were discovering a better understanding of what the Bible was talking about; to trust the Lord when he places on you a giving heart. They heard the Word, received the Word and took action.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
Second, I was reminded of the loose change that was still in my wallet. Change that I thought was unimportant. If change was so unimportant why did I pick up coins when I saw them on the ground and save them? With that question in my mind, I gladly emptied out the change in my wallet into the basket.
As Pastor Wallace continued to bring the Word about widows to life I was reminded of yet something else. My late husband, Richard Sherriff, very early-on in our son's life said, "Son, you are a protector of women and children. Always remember that." He also taught him to always carry money and a knife in his pocket. He said, "You never know when you are going to need something or someone else may need something." It was normal to see my husband reach into his wallet and give someone money no matter where we were.
When my husband passed away, one of the difficult things to do was go through his wallet. I began the task, but I needed my son to complete it with me. My husband was a giver and he never expected anything in return. He taught my son and me that when someone asks to borrow money, you do so and never expect it back. He viewed it as a gift. When we finished going through his wallet we found eight $100 bills tucked away here and there.
I've decided to keep a hundred dollar bill tucked away in my wallet and forget it's there, but if a need arises I will be able to use it. What we give away is a drop in a bucket compared to what God gives.
Finally, the third step. I knew I needed to search my wallet for that $100 dollar bill. I found it and along with it I found two $20 bills. At this point I knew God was doing something in me. I met briefly with pastor after church to communicate this to him and place the money in his hands for God's kingdom.
I thought I had a giving heart before but many times when I gave, I made sure there was something left, even when I knew the need was great for someone else.
Please don't get me wrong. I'm not telling you what you should do. And I certainly believe in good stewardship and wisdom in all decisions. What I am saying is that there is an appointed time when we all should do what is difficult to do in giving.
I was uncertain as to what I would or should give as a widow. If I truly understood the heart Jesus has for widows and the heart widows have for God's kingdom, I would have given it all in the first place. I will be honest with you, it was easier to give when my husband was by my side and we were a team. But God gave me an opportunity to listen and take action as a widow.
I am sure I will get a bit of a negative response from some family and friends about this. And that's okay. But I have never experienced what I have today in giving. I don't feel foolish, poor or empty. I feel like I have held out open hands to the Kingdom of God and said I'm giving you what I have. All of us working together meet the needs of many.
On a lighter note.....
On my way home I thought a cup of coffee would be great! But alas, I had no money! I chuckled a little. Then I thought, well, I have a little money on a debit card. Seriously, I could not believe that I thought that.
I needed to spend the day in retrospect. Not treating myself to a cup of coffee as much as I enjoy it. I've gleaned a deeper understanding of what it is to be a widow and how to trust Christ's love and provision for me. A widow is to be cared for but a widow is also responsible for the pouring out of herself into others in the promotion of goodness to all humanity. What I have sown today will be combined with the giving of others. It will carry a blessing as it flows through the church to the many needs of our city and to the Nations of the world.
One last thing, I have mentored women for years and Richard and I mentored couples. How many times have you heard that God uses us right where we are? By God's grace I did not ever think God could not use me. He made it very clear that He was commissioning me the day before my husband passed away and He used my husband to tell me so! God exchanged beauty for my ashes. He knew what was in me even if I couldn't see it and He gave me a vision of hope, purpose and destination. Once I took those steps He has shown me a little more. He has brought a new assignment to me. And they are precious widows. Imagine that. God is using me right where I am. Even as I am finding my way in this recent tragedy, I have a willing spirit to inspire and comfort other widows. It is life giving and leads to beautiful healing for both the giver and the receiver.
God Bless You!!!