I once knew a godly woman who had truly tasted the bitterness of this earthly life. This woman knew pain. She knew sacrifice. She knew hard labor and loss, including the death of a cherished child. She worked each day at a low-paying job, waiting patiently for her 65th birthday, when she could retire and devote herself full-time to her grandchildren. She crossed off the dwindling days on her calendar like a first grader waiting for Christmas.
Ninety-eight days before she was set to retire, she died suddenly. Her name was erased from the schedule at work and penciled over with that of her replacement hire.
All things are vanity.
I think we all know someone like this, don’t we? If the details aren’t exactly the same, the outline of the story is: someone labors “with wisdom and knowledge and skill,” in the words of Ecclesiastes. And what profit comes to him? Sorrow and grief all his days. The proverbial barn filled with harvest and left to rot.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: this isn’t a sad story. I’ve only told you part of it.
This woman heard, daily, the voice of God, and against it she never hardened her heart, whatever news it brought her. This woman loved as hard as she worked. Every action was a form of evangelization. To talk to her was to feel the embrace of Christ.
As much as she waited for that retirement that never came, it was never the harvest in her barn.
This is what it means to be a true steward: to seek what is above.
— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS