She was one of the most successful women I’ve known, but she rarely had money to put a full tank of fuel in the car or adequate food on her table.
She had a bright, inquiring mind, but many of those to whom she ministered never grasped her skill with words or playfulness with language.
Her thought could penetrate the deep things of God, exploring texts and prophecies with clarity and force. But it is love, not logic, she is still remembered for.
I can’t forget the sight of Judy walking slowly toward her aging car each Sabbath after worship services. Usually alone, she would eat cold sandwiches and fruit, pausing only long enough to collect her thoughts before the afternoon of ministry ahead of her.
Ten miles and 30 minutes away she would begin her every-Sabbath-afternoon routine. In winter it meant clearing snow off the cracked sidewalk that led to the tiny sanctuary, and lighting the oil-burning stove; in summer, opening the windows and chasing out the wasps. By 3:00 a round of visits had begun, picking up the elderly and unsteady in her car, helping them up the steep stairs.
Judy was the chorister. Judy was the Sabbath school teacher. Judy was the preacher three weeks out of four, off-duty only when an ordained pastor—like me—would come. And then, of course, she took each member back home when Sabbath services were done.
Month in, month out; year in, year out, this saint redrew my picture of success. Her name will never grace a large endowment for the poor, for she was frequently among them. Her thought will never be collected in a book of wisdom for the ages, for it was, like her Savior, mostly stories that she told. Success for Judy was faithfulness, a patient following of Jesus amid the poor, the elderly, the marginalized. I honor her, as do the dozens whom she blessed.
As you read this month’s cover meditation on success, remember to affirm those whom heaven applauds—like Judy.