"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."
The world is a darker place this week. On Christmas Eve, just thirty minutes before midnight, God called home one of His saints, a bright light born on October 27, 1924. Her parents named her Sarabelle, but everyone called her Sally.
I first met Sally at a Christmas dinner in the home of my future grandmother-in-law. Sally was the aunt of the boy who would, three years later, become my husband. The moment she walked in the front door the house brightened. Laughter and joy radiated from the tall redhead like light through a prism. Her blue eyes sparkled with curiosity. They didn't miss a thing. But oh, they gave back so much more than they took in. There was unmistakable love and acceptance in those eyes.
Sally's ability to accept people just as they were came from her relationship with Christ. She had received His grace and, therefore, she exhibited that same grace toward others. Christianity wasn't Sally's religion. It was her life. The abundant life Jesus promised through a relationship with Him.
I wasn't a Christian when I met Sally, but it was her influence -- and I'm sure her prayers -- that led me to Jesus. There was something so different, so authentic about her faith. It was an anchor that held through the bitterest storms: the death of two husbands, a son, her sister, her mother, and the pain of her own physical disabilities. The Lord was her Rock. Her Solid Foundation that never shifted.
Sally taught me well over the years. She was my mentor. It wasn't a formal thing. We never lived close enough to one another to meet regularly. But when we were together, I was a sponge; soaking up from her every drop of biblical truth in action I could hold. From Sally I learned that homes are a blessing from God to be used to bless others, and food is to be shared and celebrated with joy. I have fond memories of sitting across from her at the dinner table where we would first ask God's blessing and then she would look up at me, grin and make an oink-oink sound -- like a little pig -- before digging into her plate. It always made me laugh to see such a godly, dignified lady cut loose like that. And frankly, her action gave me permission to be myself. It's okay for a Titus 2 woman to laugh and have fun. Even to make oinky pig noises at the dinner table. Sally passed onto me never to take myself too seriously. A lesson that has served me well.
Although she didn't take herself seriously, she did take God's word seriously. She loved to study it. Daily devotions were important to her. I remember once I spent the night with Sally and her second husband Stephen. When I came out of the guest room in the morning, I tiptoed past their bedroom to the kitchen. The bedroom door was open, and I saw them sitting on the bed reading scripture together. I didn't have to ask if they did that every morning. I knew they did. It's a vision that will stay with me as long as I have brain cells. An elderly couple equally devoted to God. He was their priority. Beautiful.
I could write page after page of Sally Memories, but the dearest one I have is one of the last few. We were in my living room, not long after my husband died. Sally sat in an easy chair and I sat at her feet. We wept together. Not for the husbands we had lost, for we knew they were with the Lord, in a much better place. We wept because we had been left behind to face life without our companions. We wept for our widowhood; hers a few years old, mine still fresh. I shared with her that I had been reading one of my life verses, Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." But that for the first time the preceding verses, four through seven, held special meaning for me: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'" God had allowed the exile of the Israelites to Babylon, and yet He wanted His people to continue on with life in the strange place they inhabited. For in time He would bring them back. He knew the plans He had in store for them, and they included a future and a hope. Sally smiled. "Those are the same verses the Lord gave me when Stephen died." We discussed how widowhood felt like exile; suddenly you're in a strange place not of your own choosing. And how those words from our Heavenly Father told us that He wanted us to go on and live life to the fullest. In time He would bring us out of our exile, but until then we were to remain faithful. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I will miss this dear lady as a daughter misses her mother. For, indeed, Sally was my spiritual mother. She was a wise woman. A gracious, generous and loving woman. A woman after God's own heart. She "fought the good fight", she "finished the course", she "kept the faith." God brought her into my life to reach me and teach me how to follow Him. And in my greatest hour of need she was there -- as any good mother would be -- to encourage me and help me stay the course God had set before me.
One day I'll see her again, in a place where God wipes away every tear and the Son never stops shining. I'm sure right now Sally is worshipping the King with all her loved ones who have gone before.
As for me, I praise God for the joy and blessing of having a true Titus 2 woman in my life. Sarabelle Bausch, I want to grow up in the Lord to be just like you.