As I casually flipped on Spirituality Live a couple of months ago, now a Sunday evening Covid-19 related fellowship routine, I don’t know what I expected. In all honesty I probably had a few household related tasks on my mind, and was most likely contemplating if I could do the zoom meeting in the decreasing temperatures of our summer house. I had never met Jean Stead, and she would have no idea who I was. Yet as I listened to her and her husband Jim’s testimony of God at work in their lives – I was moved so much. So, what was it about a mature couple, Jean herself facing cancer, that spoke so richly into my life?
They looked pretty ordinary on the outside, but as I listened, I heard of a life devoted to a simple response and obedience to their Saviour. Since their conversion the voice of the Living God had been real in their lives to the point of obeying when God told them to sell their house and business. There were no guarantees or hints as to why or what they were to do next…just a call to do it which they responded to in obedience. There was no promise of prosperity, riches or even security, and yet they obeyed.
Jim and Jean ended up working for ‘Teen Challenge,’ an addiction rehabilitation programme for young people founded by the late David Wilkerson. A few years ago I had read Wilkerson’s book, ‘The Cross and Switchblade’ which starts with this same virtue, a call from God and a response of simple obedience. If you’ve not read it – add it to your lockdown list of books to read and you will be lifted beyond belief!
Obedience can be underrated in the Church. It doesn’t sound as exciting as prophesy, tongues, worship or leadership, and yet, if we don’t obey our foundation with the Lord is unstable. The beginning of our Christian walk starts with obedience to repent and believe and our whole Christian walk is reliant on simple obedience, and when we don’t obey we understand that we need God’s grace and help to obey.
Here were two people looking back on a lifetime of simple obedience and the impact was immeasurable. Just thinking of the amount of young people they had counselled and helped through Teen Challenge was humbling and glorifying to God at work in their lives. Here was a living example of many small acts of obedience building up through time and resulting in something amazing.
Jean was a woman of God. When I heard of her passing into glory, although I’d never met her, I felt several things. First, sadness for Jim, her family, and friends who must now have an aching, gaping hole in their lives; secondly, joy that she could now experience true healing and is face to face with her Saviour whom she loves so much. And lastly, a question for myself and maybe other women…what will I be like in older years?
In her last episode she knew she was dying and preparing to meet her Saviour. Jean was a Titus 2 sort of a lady, an older women setting an example to younger – so, that the word of God will not be reviled. It causes me to ask what kind of woman am I?
When I look back on my life, will I see the same simple obedience, trust, peace, glorifying testimonies? Will I have inspiration to pass on to others, even ones that don’t know me? Will I contain that inner beauty talked about in 1 Peter 3, not physical but peace that emanates to all around me?
Today I can’t give you an answer, but I can make it my prayer. But wait, it is not only older women that are examples is it? I tell my 13 year-old to be an example to her 11 year old sister, I tell my 11 year old to be an example to her 7 and 3 year old friends.
Whether we like it or not, we all influence others. We are characters in other people’s lives, we have impact on those around us and we will be remembered. I’m thankful today for the example Jean Stead and other Godly women have been in my life, I think of my 80 year-old friend that died a few years ago Ruth, the same…but I’ll save that story for another time!
My prayer is this: Thank You Lord for Jean Stead, may I be a good influencer, may I be obedient, may my life reflect and bring glory to the Living God. Amen