A busy Sunday morning at church in my staff pastor role means I’m typically heading in a number of directions. Sometimes simultaneously. At least in my head. If I’m not careful, I can tend to get tunnel-focused on what I’ve got to do next or where I’m supposed to be that I can miss what’s right in front of me. Like the people right in front of me. Literally. In front of my face.
Such was the case one Sunday early on in my position at Mud Creek Baptist Church. That day, I learned an invaluable lesson about the importance of people, a lesson I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. While bustling through the hall at church, at breakneck pace I might add, a dear older lady by the name of Jewel Waters kindly reached out and grasped my arm. She then said with the sweetest smile, “Robert, don’t you dare walk past me one more time without giving me a hug!” Jewel was truly a “jewel” to our church. She carried herself with a beautiful elegance and joy. She faithfully sang in the choir, but her manner and smile sang even more often. I’m not sure I’ve ever been around someone who exuded the love of Jesus more than Jewel Waters.
Back to that Sunday. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time I had walked past her. That day, with more sweetness in her correction than many have in their compliments, she spoke gracious truth into my life. Her words changed me that morning. I never walked past her again without giving her a hug, not one time from that day until her passing a few years later. Every time I had a chance, I thanked her for her intervention in my life that day.
When she passed away, I was privileged to speak at her funeral. As we honored her walk with Christ and the beautiful display of his goodness in and through her life, I reflected publicly again my appreciation to her for the day she said those life-changing words. Those words have become a “jewel” to me. A precious, irreplaceable, unforgettable Jewel!
What about you? Whose well timed and thoughtful words have impacted you? What’s the conversation or situation you will never forget? What’s the jewel you’ll always treasure?