Never having given birth, I had thought that Mother’s Day had nothing to do with me. But then I became part of a church plant in Porthcawl, ‘Grace Community Church,’ and here we have a Ladies Day, where all of us ‘Ladies’ are loved and honoured. Having said that, am I sure that I am a lady?
Asked to represent the older generation of ladies, I recalled a story which continues to amuse me.
Still a very young teacher, I had kept a child behind to make sure he was buttoned up. His little cousin, come to meet him, was calling to me from the door, in broad cockney accent, ‘Lady! Lady!’ ‘Be quiet!’ my pupil rebuked him. ‘She aint a lady, she’s a teacher.’ Then apologetically to me, ‘Calling you a lady.’
Well, I may or may not qualify as a lady, or even a mother, but I am confident in telling people that in ‘Grace’ I am ‘Everybody’s grandmother.’ And I recall this story because it is from the time that I first remember hearing God speak to me. Trying to cope with a class of 45 under fives, I told God, ‘Lord, I cannot teach these children.’ God said, ‘Can you love them for me?’ He still fills me with his love for the children.
As a young woman I longed to be married and to have six children, yet here I am, well on in my eighties, never having given birth yet deeply satisfied with God’s goodness. The Bible says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’
And there is another verse that says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.’ I often speak that out to the Lord when perhaps I am finding life as a rather ancient widow a bit hard, and then I realise that God is giving me his very best.
I loved teaching my little East-End kids, and when God asked me to be willing to go anywhere for him, I ended up in the highlands of New Guinea. At first the local women would threaten their little ones that the White woman would eat them if they weren’t good, but when I heard them referring to me as ‘the Little Children’s Mother’ I had a deep contentment.
I had wanted to live and die in New Guinea, but God had asked me to be willing to go anywhere for him, and later I had a few fruitful years in Ghana too, where again I was the Sunday School mother. I was fifty when I returned to UK, where I became Welsh by marriage, - too old now to start a family, and Joel and his first wife had had no children.
But Joel was already a writer and it was then God called me too to write. Having friends who were busy grandparents, I used to tell Joel, ‘If we were grandparents, we would not be able to do our writing.’ God was giving us the desires of our heart.’
Once we retired from the ministry, the children’s books I was writing became a key for me to visit the local Primary schools, where I continue to teach ‘Bible’ to this day.
So here I am, representing the Older Ladies in Grace. I am blessed that God taught me, as a young woman, to ask him into my heart, to walk with him and to listen to his voice, but we are never too young, or too old to come to Jesus, and whatever our disappointments or losses in life, he wants to satisfy us all deeply with his goodness.
As I have inscribed on my husband’s tombstone, ‘In the presence of Jesus is fullness of joy.’ And if you haven’t yet proved this to be true, may I add, ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart.’