Value in Violets
Have you ever met someone whose particular passion spills over into everything they do? I once knew a person who could sing a melody to a political news article- he loved music that much. More specifically, there are people whose hearts are engulfed so wholly in a pursuit that the evidence is hard to miss.
My family has had the honour of sharing life with a woman who demonstrates the above tendency quite well. From as early as her teenage years Noreen took interest in people who were often overlooked. The majority of her life was spent nurturing children who were unwanted or mistreated. Her daughters remember around 60 children coming through their home, needy and broken; desperate for love. Noreen was the warmth, safety, and nurture these kids needed at that time.
You see, Noreen loved Jesus. She met him back in 1943 at a young peoples church group. Her life has been shaped by the passion she received through her salvation..the passion to love.
James 2:20-24 talks about how faith and deeds coexist in the lives of believers.
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”
When I read this verse I think about Noreen, who like Abraham, exemplify the same fruitful life fuelled by faith in God.
She knew the love of her Heavenly Father and walked confidently in His grace and love. It is this freedom that enabled her to pour out love to others. When the Holy Spirit gets ahold of us chains of fear and shame are broken. We no longer live in trepidation because we have All Mighty God going before us. We no longer need to stuff ourselves with ‘things’ to fill a void because Jesus paid it all to fill us with Gods love. We find ourselves with a stirring in our hearts to love, to give, to care and to share with others about Jesus.
Noreen has lived a long life. In her later years she slowed down a bit and retired from fostering children. But she began doing a funny thing. Whenever she shopped at Wal Mart she would meander over to the plant section. Tucked away in this corner were house plants of various shapes and forms. She would choose the ugliest, sickest African Violet and carefully place it in her shopping cart. Once she got home she began that familiar process of feeding, nurturing, caring. The truth is - the Spirit of God never left her unchanged. With Him dwelling in her heart she “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10). Even in small aspects of life- she functioned differently.
With Christ at the centre of our lives, we cant help but see need or hunger and respond with love in action.
I’ve spoken to various people who believe that Christians perform deeds in order to qualify as being “saved”. I understand that sadly this may be true of some, and even a temptation to those who do not truly know Christ as their saviour. But let me tell you- Knowing Jesus means that we can be ASSURED He has taken care of all our sins.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7
We no longer work for anything. But God works through us. His Kingdom comes to earth when we give ourselves in love. Our faith in God produces fruit that only He could cultivate. Our whole life becomes one ever growing endeavour to love, serve and share about His goodness.
This story is just one small example of a life of faith partnered with works.
“I just walk with the Lord on my mind every day.
No matter what happens to me. He knows me. He knows my feelings.
And He does the things in my heart that nobody else can do”
-Noreen Leonard, age 91