Like so many of you, I was surprised to read of Whitney Houston’s death. Her beautiful voice amazed me. Her life saddened me. Her death shocked me. For me, these tragic events cause my mind to turn to spiritual matters and to think of the principles of God’s Word that should control the life of every believer. I’m not here to pass judgment on whether Whitney Houston was a Christ follower. Her death has given me pause for thought, however.
I remember how the Kardashian divorce made me ponder the faithful, enduring marriage of my parents. Other events of the rich and famous have caused me to draw similar contrasts between those whom according to this world have it all, and those who do not. And now as I have worked around the house today I have had time to think about the life of Whitney Houston. Nearly every radio or television newscast mentions her name over and over. It’s hard not to have her on my mind.
The woman whom I keep remembering that stands tall in contrast to Houston is Gary’s grandmother, Rachel Eller Edmonds Gunter. I am not going to write about her life now, but someday I want to do just that. She is one amazing woman! Born in the western mountains of North Carolina, she married and found herself widowed at a young age – with four small children, one a young baby. Life was hard then and her choices were few. She was wooed by a man who claimed to be a preacher and she married him. It wasn’t long before she realized that he was a preacher in name only.
Her life became, in many ways, a fight for survival. She fought for her children to be safe and cared for, even as she bore a child to this man who was her husband. She cared for many of his illegitimate children that would show up at their home. She worked hard jobs to provide for all of these children while this man she married was gone for long trips to who-knows-where. She gardened, canned, sewed, cooked, cleaned, and still worked outside the home as she cared for her family. She neglected herself in order to put her children, and later her grandchildren, first.
Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that she forgave. She had to forgive many people, I’m sure, but forgiving those dearest to her for their indescribable hurts in her life was a testimony to her relationship to Christ. As I grew to know and love Mama Rachel when I became a part of this wonderful family, I noticed her serenity and her love for the Lord. Forgiveness was evident in her life. As I learned more of her story, I was amazed at what she had endured and what she had forgiven.
As I think of her today, I am again thankful for her example and her testimony of faithfulness over the years. If anyone on this planet had a reason to turn to alcohol or drugs to escape from reality or to dull the pain, Mama Rachel certainly did. I’ve not even scratched the surface of what that woman experienced. She had no money with which to escape; no great talent to make her famous; no captivating beauty to propel her to stardom. What did she have? She had her relationship with Christ. She knew Him and she followed Him as she read her Bible, attended church, and lived out her faith. She taught us that this was enough.
She lived to be 100. God blessed her faithfulness. Her picture was never on the front of People magazine; her name was not on the news; her death was not announced to the world. Yet she is one that I want our children to remember and to emulate. I want her life and her story to be woven into the fabric of our family because she lived the way that mattered. Not the way that was noticed by the world, but the way that influenced who her family became. My children have her blood coursing through their veins and I want them to know how blessed they are.
Who can find a godly woman? Her price is far above rubies. I am reminded again that we are rich indeed………….in the ways that matter.