Faith is to believe what you do not see;
the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. St. Augustine
My pastor father moved us to South Portland, Maine, the month before I turned twelve. I was excited to make new friends, graduate from children’s church, and move into the youth group.
My first friend was an odd girl named Stephanie. She was mature for her age, had a quirky sense of humor, loved Jesus with all her heart, and was an excellent student of the Word and at school. She was a year ahead of me at my new Junior High, but we became fast friends because… well… I’m quirky and more than a little odd, too.
One of my earliest memories of our friendship was finding a cracked 45 vinyl (a 7” record for you young’uns) on the road near Stephanie’s simple home. She placed the record player’s needle past the broken section, and after our initial shock, we hooted at the absurdity of the lyrics. “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” was a ridiculous song that provided hours of hysterical entertainment for our dry humor minds. Seriously, what love-sick woman calls her man a mangy mutt and threatens to sic the ASPCA on him?
Laughter isn’t the only thing we have in common. Stephanie and I are both the youngest child born to older parents. We love to sing. Music… oh, the sweet music. We’d spend hours singing the old hymns at her piano. Her lovely, crisp soprano and my alto blended in perfect harmony. And Jesus. We both gave our hearts to the Lord at a young age and desired to live a life for Christ. Whatever that meant.
But we had one difference. I was sporadic with my devotions while Stephanie spent time with the Lord daily. That one difference showed me how much I needed her mentorship, whether or not she knew I had placed her in the position.
Stephanie weathered many storms as we continued our friendship through college, then transitioned into adult life, where she headed to the mission field, and I joined the workforce. We shared about family struggles and commiserated about marriage issues and challenges with our children, both of which came well after most of our friends.
But a horrific accident and the eventual devastating loss of a child is a burden she carried without me. Through it all, she never wavered in her faith. That’s not to say she didn’t ask God why or let Him know her deepest hurts, but she never questioned that He was deeply involved in her current struggle.
After the accident, I flew out to spend time with my dearest friend. We called out to God for a miracle. We reminisced about all the times God showed up when we least expected it. Things we once questioned were now clear, and we could see God’s hand in the midst.
Her heart was breaking, but her devotion to her Lord didn’t waver. She lived each day as the one before: full of desire to grow closer to Jesus, honor and praise His name, and wait patiently to hear His voice.
Her mantra became Jeremiah 32:17b, “Nothing is too hard for you,” and she trusted His sovereignty.
That’s not where I was in my spiritual journey. At all. I put on a good front with Stephanie, but she didn’t know my husband and I were going through a rough patch. I had not shared because I didn’t want to burden her, and it seemed insignificant in light of what she faced.
But I had a transformational reality check when I spent a week with this woman of God who did not base her feelings on her circumstances but on the Word of God.
As if we were back in school, she remained steadfast in her time alone with God. Her dog-eared Bible had more underlines in the Psalms than my prayer-warrior mother’s. She sang the hymns we’d memorized with conviction and a few tears. Stephanie was consistent though her life turned completely upside down.
She mentored me through her actions.
Friends like this don’t come along every day, and I cherish the gift she’s given me. We celebrated forty-four years of friendship this past June, and she’s still mentoring me. If a day goes by where I miss time alone with God, she is my accountability—not literally—the memory of years of faithful obedience is enough.
Having a mentor can come in many forms, but having one who loves Jesus, and you, unconditionally, no matter the age or circumstance, is a treasure.
Sometimes we learn best by hearing or reading someone else’s true or fictional story. If you want to be encouraged today, check out Wheeler’s Design by Rachel Skatvold.*
And be sure to enter the giveaway between now and April 5th. One individual will receive a complimentary eBook and a $5 Amazon gift card.
Take a trip to the Suamalie Islands where palm trees sway, the sand and sea pulse with life, and the people will steal your heart.
*Please note this is an affiliate link. As always, it costs you nothing extra, and it all goes to my chocolate fund.