The late Michael Yaconelli wrote a number of things about honest faith. He was familiar with the highs and lows of walking the spiritual path. He famously said that faith was “messy”, a term that I have found to be very useful. Sometimes faith is expressed in a mountaintop experience, other times it is about living in the valley. Either way, it is about being honest and following through to the end of the journey, whether the day to day walk, or the lifetime search for God.
He shared about one such faith journey that involved a woman named Gertie, who at 76 years old told her pastor she wanted to start a ministry. He encouraged her to follow the longing God placed on her heart.
Gertie loved photography, so she began taking pictures of the youth. On the back of each photo she would write a small biography of the kids and then pray for their needs.
For ten years she did this with countless kids, memorizing their names and faces and praying for each one. One day the pastor shared with Gertie that he didn’t want to wait for her funeral for people to honor her, he wanted to have a memorial service now so people could thank her in person for her kindness.
Some of the kids she knew were now adults with children of their own. In droves they came back for the memorial service, sharing how Gertie’s kindness changed their life.
At the end of the service a few high school kids waited towards the back of the sanctuary, hiding a special gift under a blanket. When the time came they walked down the aisle towards Gertie, barely able to contain their enthusiasm.
Gertie loved perfume, especially Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, available at Cleveland’s Beachwood Place Mall. The kids pulled back the blanket to reveal they had purchased a large bottle of Beautiful for this special occasion. Then they explained, the bottle was not for Gertie to take home, it was for now. They opened the bottle and anointed her feet with the perfume, thanking her for a decade of love.
As Mike shared, “Gertie might not show up on the radar screens of the movers and shakers of the world. But God recognizes her and he recognizes the other unrecognizables like you and me. Every tiny contribution we make to his kingdom is noticed and remembered, and one day we will understand just how beautiful our thin sacrifices are.”
Join us Sunday morning at Akron First to learn more about your own ministry, and strive to give the gift of your life to others, nothing could be more beautiful.