Her skin was wrinkled with age. The whites of her eyes were yellowed and began to glisten as we invited her to church. Her hands were leather like, probably from many years living in such harsh and poor conditions, as I grasped them receiving a warm embrace. Though some of her teeth were missing, she smiled so big that I knew in that moment I was with a friend! Then, through an interpreter, she made a statement I will never forget…
She looked at my husband and I and said, “I praise The Lord that he made me poor, for if I had the riches of this world, I might have never come to know Him, and would miss out on the riches of the next life!”
I could not believe what I had just heard! This was not just a poor neighborhood in the United States. This was not “poor” as in; she didn’t own a washer and dryer. This was the kind of “poor” that she likely missed several meals throughout her life. Her home was built of scrap metal and deteriorating plywood. The outhouses I have heard about from my grandparents seemed wonderful in comparison to the small shack she had in her yard for a toilet.
It was at that moment that understood just how deep the Father’s love for us really is. I witnessed in that old Xhosa lady a life that was given an eternal desire to love God, even if it meant she would do without the temporal things of this life.
I began to think about my own life; where The Lord brought me from, and the grace He bestowed upon me when I trust Christ as my Savior. I thought about the lady caught in adultery in John 8; how she was cast down to the earth to be judged, yet received pardon! Though the Bible does not say, I want to be careful not to add to it either, I often wonder about the looks she continued to receive throughout her life by those that were “religious.” I wonder how neglected, ostracized, and ignored she felt by those that were supposed to be righteous. I wonder if she ever thought; “I’m a new creature now! Will you yet judge me? Will you yet look down upon me as inferior?”
At first glance, this Xhosa lady was not much to look at. There was nothing extraordinary in her that stood out. Yet, when she spoke, she glorified God; not for the riches He gave her, but for the love He gave her!
I know in my own life that I will never be an Elizabeth Elliot, or a Fanny Crosby, nor even a great missionary; but I do know the depth of God’s love for me! I do know that Christ has given me a life worth living! Regardless of how little thought, or accolades, or grand gestures I receive, there is a God in Heaven that loves me, and because He first loved me, I can also love Him, and I can also love others!
May God allow me the years to magnify and glorify His name in the way that that lady did. May I never look down upon someone because of where they came from, the family they were born to, or the lack of possessions they have. May I look on others in the same light that Christ does; one of great compassion, love, and forgiveness! And may I praise His name for the new life He gave me when I came to know Christ as my personal Savior!