When we marry, we marry into family. How blessed are we, if that family turns out to be something extraordinary, something wonderful! Well, this is what happened to me, when I married my husband - I acquired this marvelous extended family, not the least wonderful of which, was my mother-in-law, Constance Pearl.
Now, Connie must have been sent specially from God. I was a nervous young thing, a little different, maybe - a little awkward, and distrusting of the world. But early on, Connie took my hand, and showed me the world as she saw it, under God. It took a while, but eventually, she gifted me her vision, and what a strong and beautiful vision it was!
Connie had a faith like no other I can recall. She didn't see life as a series of obstacles to be overcome, instead she saw it as a joyous adventure with God, a journey whose destination was already decided, as long as you stayed the course, and trusted God.
"I handed my life over to God, when I was nineteen," Connie would say. "It just seemed to me, at that time, that it was the right thing to do. Everything seemed so much plainer, so much easier after that. It was like... I no longer had to make this journey alone - I had a companion, an adviser, a leader, and He loved me - so I could trust Him to help me, even if I'd come to fall - and manys the time I did - but He took my hand, and He helped me right on up again! That's the thing about God - He doesn't give up!"
Then Connie would smile one of her dazzling smiles, and she'd take my hand, and off we'd go on some mad-cap adventure!
"I've got to get you out of yourself, my darlin', and get you into God!"
That was Connie's battle cry.
Well - the things we did together!
I remember a yachting trip to a lake in summer. I stood on the shore hesitating - I had a real fear of deep water. But Connie assured me that nothing could go wrong.
"What's the worst that could happen?" she said, "You fall out?"
And there, out in the middle of the lake, that's exactly what did happen! The yacht tipped in a squally wind, and over she went! I stood on the shore, terrified for dear Connie. All I could see was the indistinct blur of a yellow life-jacket bobbing in the distance! Connie eventually returned though, bedraggled as the proverbial drowned rat, but smiling cheerily as ever.
"Well - that was an experience," she said, "Teach me for not paying more attention to the wiles of the wind! But I'm OK - praise the Lord! Now - You comin' in?"
Another time, Connie went swimming in the sea by an out-of-the-way beach, whilst I stood dubious on the shore. I was sure I had seen a dark shadow in those waters!
"Nonsense!" Connie replied. "There's never been a shark here - not in these twenty years!"
Well, as it turned out, it wasn't a shark, but a large sting-ray that was visiting those waters! It swam along behind the intrepid Constance, but it kept its distance, and when Connie eventually got out, the rascal thing disappeared, so don't you know it? I couldn't even prove my point! But what exactly was my point? Be scared, fearful, distrusting of the world?
I guess what I'm trying to say here, is that Connie, through her constant trusting of the Lord, although she got herself into some interesting situations, never really came to any harm.
"He'll take me when He's ready!" she used to say, smiling.
And indeed, one day He did. Connie died of cancer just last year, but even to the end, her faith was solid as a rock, and she left a legacy of love, that even now, I can't forget. Connie lives on in my heart - and every day she makes me braver, and every day she teaches me some more, about the simple, quiet faith of trusting God.
2010 Laura Swindon-Ross
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I'm a teacher and Christian writer.