Author: Beth
•Sunday, December 18, 2011

The setting sun streamed in through the half-opened blinds, glistening behind her neatly-piled white hair like a halo, and illuminating the faces of two dozen youngsters on folding chairs. She held an old worn book in her lap, the portal through which she would usher her little audience weekly into rousing stories of Covenanters with a Scottish accent.

A slight rustling sound came from one of the rows. Her narrating voice stopped, and she looked over her glasses at the two whisperers. For a moment, nobody dared to move. In a gentle voice, she broke the silence by beginning to tell the familiar story of a kitty cat that once snuck into church and stole the attention of the worshippers away from God. It isn’t enough that you aren’t paying attention to what God wants you to learn, she would kindly reprimand, but you are also breaking the 8th commandment by stealing time away from everyone else.

Lesson learned. Attention was quickly restored and she resumed the book. She had won the respect of even the youngest of listeners, because everyone knew she loved. Everything about her spoke that louder than words.

Her name was Mrs. Margie Blackwood, the wife of our pastor.  I was one of the young children sitting in her little class every week. From some of my earliest days, she became a face and a name that I loved.

She’s the one who introduced me to the story of the Two Margarets, who both gave their lives because they refused to recant the name of Jesus Christ. I wondered if my faith was strong enough to do the same. She would tell of her salvation testimony and how she came to say “All I want is what You want, God. I don’t want what I want anymore” about everything. I began to say the same thing in my prayers and learned to truly mean it with all of my heart. 

"Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be"

Years passed. I grew into my twenties. Mrs. B was no longer teaching little groups of children on Sunday evenings. Yet, she still kept teaching me – without words.

Another sunshine day found the two of us at her piano, her most beloved instrument. Her memory had faded. Her hair was no longer neatly piled by her own skillful hands. The hands touched the black and white keys with a rare sense of familiarity. She played all the old favorite tunes without music and I learned to call out the ones from her favorite eras.  Her husband, Roy, joined her that afternoon, as he had so many times during their decades of marriage. Together, I watched as they made harmony together – her on the piano and him singing with gusto the old love songs that she had written to him.

Nearly 63 years of marriage between the two, and I, as a single young girl, watched the two of them closely during this autumn season of life. The evidence of God’s grace in their lives sang as strongly and as plainly as the notes that danced out of the old piano. They had weathered many bumps and bruises along the way, which seemed to only have brought them closer together. 

Now, when the years had passed and his wife was unable to do anything, I watched as he laid down his strength to care for her every need.

For nearly the last two years of Mrs. B’s life, I had the privilege of visiting her nearly every week. She taught me how to just enjoy having “a good day” when she spent it at the piano or re-reading old letters. She taught me that God’s faithfulness is greater than physical disabilities. His peace can surround a mind that has lost the ability to recognize faces, because the truth of God’s Word lies deeper still. She taught me what it looks like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear about the other side. But most significantly of all, she and her husband taught me what God’s unending and sacrificial love for His Bride looks like, as I watched a strong marriage and unfailing commitment continue right to the very end.

One evening in November, I drove home into a glorious golden sunset emblazoned across the sky, thinking about my friend who had just gone Home. Heaven seemed a little more real and near to me now. The best had finally come for her. The words that she had written years ago had been proven true:

In the yonder world of heaven there’s no need for a sun.
There’s no need for a moon to shine for light.
In that blessed hour, I will see my Lord face to face,
And forever live with Him, where all has been made right.

…O glorious heaven when my soul will attain perfect joy,
Beyond the mountain top when I have finished my race,
I will rest eternally upon the arm of God
Then, I will look upon my precious Lord – face to face.
Mgb 7/3/97
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