When you look at Thelma’s stooped shoulders, the head that shakes a little, the lines and worn hands, you probably don’t realize that she is a great example. But she is.
You might get a hint of it if you stopped long enough to take that hand, with its papery soft skin, into your own. The warmth of her grip might surprise you.
You would surely suspect it if you took time to look deep into her eyes. There is a glow in them that you can’t miss—a glow reflected in her smile.
Thelma is happy. She is blessed by God. She is an example.
Don’t tell me that Thelma is just another one of the elderly, the best of her life over, simply waiting out her last few years. I know better.
Thelma has the joy of living in her heart. Though if you looked at her home, you might ask, “Why?” for it is nothing pretentious—just a simple little two-story house where she lives with her sister. A little run-down here and there. If you looked at her dress you might ask, “Why?” for her clothes are certainly not the latest in fashion.
If you looked for her family, you might again ask, “Why?” for she never married and has only her sister.
Thelma would be the last to tell you her secret. For that matter, I don’t suppose she’s ever given it a thought. She would just say, “God has been good to me.” But I think I can tell you why Thelma has such a peace and happiness about her, why I say she is an example.
Thelma has learned that there is a great blessing for those who willingly give to God and to God’s children. When Thelma knows about a need, she doesn’t just shake her head and say, “My, there certainly is a need.” She does something.
It may not be much: five or ten dollars tucked into an envelope and pressed into a hand. A card to missionaries far from home, enclosing a “little something” for a need there. A quarter tucked into the hand of a five-year-old. A monthly donation to the missionary project.
I’ve seen her slip into a rest room and take off her stockings to give to a woman off the street whose legs were bare and cold. I’ve seen her laboriously trimming old greeting cards and religious pictures to be sent to India.
She spends of her own limited funds for Bibles to be sent to foreign lands. She provides food for a needy young woman whose husband left her and their young children. She gives a little something toward the entertaining of the seafaring men who visit the church. Thelma does something when she sees a need!
I’d like to follow her example. It’s easy for me to think, I’ve got to be careful and save when I can. I don’t have very much myself, and it seems like I need so many things. I have to think twice before I spend or give money to others. I know it’s a worthy cause, I can see there is a need, but . . .
If you could really get to know Thelma, you would find that she has learned the truth recorded in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” “Bountifully?” you ask. I already said her home, her clothes, and her life are simple. Certainly not luxurious. But Thelma glows with an inner light. She has found a blessing greater than any treasure money could buy.
We read: “God loveth a cheerful giver.”
I know God loves Thelma.
Thelma was one of the sisters in our Portland church until she was called home to be with Jesus after this story was written. Maybe you know someone like her. Look around you! Remember, you can follow her example.