I have a story to share. It’s a true story that has impacted my husband and I greatly over the past few years. I trust it will do the same for you.
Years ago, we met a woman who should have been a part of my husband’s life for all of his life but was not – through no fault of either of them. That all changed a couple years ago. I will call her Mary.
Mary had lived a difficult life before we ever knew her. Many of her problems were due to her own bad decisions, we came to learn. But in recent years, Mary came to know Christ personally. As her faith grew, her life changed. The consequences of her past decisions could not be erased but her life took on new meaning, new purpose, and was full of new peace.
Our lives became more personally entwined with Mary’s due to the death of a dad and later the death of his wife. What was to have been Mary’s from the estate was wrongfully taken away. Mary, now suffering from metastatic breast cancer and still trying to work to make ends meet, was devastated.
Gary and I, though, did what we could to encourage Mary from a distance. However, we watched with grateful amazement as she turned to the One Who really loved her the most and from Whom she gained the greatest strength.
Her conversations with us centered on that relationship with God that was growing in her life through her extreme difficulties, her hurt, and her declining health. Mary turned her back on being bitter and instead turned her heart to God’s forgiveness of her, and thus her forgiveness of those who had done so much wrong in her life. She had counted on some earthly financial help to come her way but when it did not, she learned the value of counting on God instead…and from that experience, she grew so much.
On what was to be her last holiday season on earth, Mary sent us this message. I will simply let you read her exact words:
“I’m at the cancer clinic right now getting my blood drawn and waiting to see my oncologist for my usual follow up. On the way here this morning I passed the mall and stores with their crowded parking lots full of Black Friday shoppers. It really caused me to think about what’s most important in this life. It’s God, our Salvation, family and friends. Even if I never ever had another present under the Christmas tree, it wouldn’t matter. Because I’ve already been so richly blessed, and you all are a part of that blessing! I have so much to be grateful for.”
We commented to her about how thankful we were to have been given the opportunity to know her better over the previous months. Our relationship probably would not have happened had it not been for the wrong that was done. But we were sorry for her advancing cancer and for her hardships. Again, Mary’s words:
“That’s one of the many good things that’s come out of a bad situation. My cancer journey has brought me into a much closer and deeper walk with God, which I am grateful for.
It’s strengthened my faith, and brought about peace, joy, and a sense of assurance, much stronger than I had before. It’s had a positive impact on all areas of my life. It’s truly amazing how our God moves and works His will in our lives.”
What a beautiful example she was of how God makes beauty from ashes! Her testimony continued to shine with us until her death seven months later.
Another person recently died, too…a person who was largely responsible for the wrong done in Mary’s life. He had everything of earthly value that anyone could want, some not rightfully his, but when I think of him, I think of what Jesus said:
“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”
A real-life lesson from two people who made choices, one choosing the narrow path and one the wide.
Two lives…two choices…two eternities.
Which one are you, my friend?