Today is Valentines Day, and although it was originally intended for couples, it’s come to represent love of all kinds. Because of that, those of us who aren’t part of a pair can participate also.
This week I’ve been thinking a great deal about someone precious to me, someone I love dearly, my sister Mary. We’ve all heard the expression, “You can’t out-give God.” I can say the same about her.
Mary is a giver. She never “arrives” anyplace without something special to give, a flower, a small package, a framed photo, cupcakes, or any number of other things. She’s creatively thoughtful and not just with material gifts. Her greatest giving is of effort: a willingness to sit with someone who’s hurting or to serve others by chauffeuring, making a meal, or running errands. That gift of effort also demands time, and Mary cheerfully gives big chunks of that to others, even if it means quietly setting aside her own agenda.
She’s my older sister (not by much), and ever since childhood I’ve followed her around, counting on her to have the good idea or take the lead. For example, when I was three and still sucking my thumb, my parents tried to solve the problem by pinning my pajama sleeves over my hands. Mary had a better idea and took off the pins. No wonder I wanted to stick with her.
Now that we’ve grown up, had 14 children between us, and lived separately for more than 50 years, you’d think I could maneuver through life without leaning on her, but no. I’m still calling for advice, still loving time with her, and still appreciating when she comes up with an efficient plan to reach goals… even my goals.
She’s forever organized, the kind of person who doesn’t lose track of her phone, her keys or what’s written on her calendar, and while I’m often caught scrambling, she brings calm to every storm. After decades of watching her give to others, I’m still hoping some of it will eventually rub off on me.
Mary is an excellent example of doing what God wants us all to do. He set the original standard, then sent Jesus to model what earthly servant-leadership should look like. Mary takes time to study the life of Jesus and learn from him what she’s supposed to do. But beyond that, she’s willing to actually do it. The result is a demonstration of what faith in God looks like on an everyday basis.
When we gravitate toward people like Mary, in the process we’re actually leaning toward the Lord, because godly people have become godly only by living close to him first. Their counsel is a reflection of him, and their actions mirror the behavior of Jesus. I didn’t deserve such a fine sister, but I sure am glad to have her… on Valentines Day and every day.
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)