By Wendy Ulrich
Our Sister Triangle Winter Retreat was blessed with the sweet admonitions from our guest speaker, Sherrylee Woodward. We were encouraged in our daily faith-walk with the Lord, so that we would become filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy! How better to express our lives than as being a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’, our theme for the weekend, as Sherrylee read this passage from The Message.
Do everything readily and cheerfully-no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
About six weeks after retreat, we arrived back home in Thunder Bay. On our first Sunday back, our interim pastor, Steven, presented a lesson on Philippians and spoke on that very passage. He, like Sherrylee, loved how that passage was worded from The Message. It was as if Steven had been to ladies’ retreat! It is interesting how God will send things down your path, not once, but twice and maybe more often, to get your attention. (My husband calls them ‘God-incidence’, not ‘coincidence’!)
Steven said, “If you forget the larger story, you’ll find yourself (filling the void with) complaining and grumbling about the small, insignificant things that are inconveniencing you right now.” He encouraged us to look at the brighter side of life and posed this question: “Who is your breath of fresh air?” You may have many who come to mind, but the one who immediately came to my mind was our friend, Jack. We first met Jack when he came to dinner in our home in Zambia. He lifted our spirits and when he left I remember saying, “He was such a breath of fresh air!”
That first night we met Jack, he told us the story of his family’s first trip to Zambia. He said their family had been unable to clear immigration the day they arrived because the office had already closed. They were allowed to travel to the mission as long as they returned the following day. It so happened that on the return trip a young Zambian girl travelled with them, for what reason, he didn’t say, but when they went for lunch this little African girl was not allowed into the restaurant; she had to sit in the vehicle by herself. Jack and his wife, Joann were distressed over the incident and vowed that as long as they were in Zambia, that would never happen in their home! We witnessed Jack’s love for the people when they returned to Zambia while we were there. We were blessed by watching them serve together—their love was so evident!
Jack loves serving and has no agenda for himself! Even though he raised funds for special projects and gave solid advice for mission projects, it seemed those projects often got sidetracked. However, year after year, he returned and provided what assistance he could, never complaining and always cheerful. He allowed people to make mistakes. He was never critical but continued to encourage people in a loving way to be more accountable. Jack and his wife bring joy wherever they go and are truly a breath of fresh air!
So, who is your breath of fresh air? Who are you encouraged by? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be remembered as someone who was a “Breath of Fresh Air”