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FAITHFUL LIVING: Faithfulness lets us live boldly

I have come to understand that sometimes we experience good things in our lives because we make them happen — we dream and toil, persist and sacrifice until our concepts become reality. Other times wonderful opportunities and people seem to drop into our laps. I find these circumstances some of the most satisfying, for they are experiences filled with wonder and surprise. They are like manna from heaven.

That was exactly my experience in 1994 when the idea of writing Faithful Living was first introduced to me.

I wish I could say that I determined I would become a columnist and worked like a mad woman to make that happen. But the truth of the matter is this: the idea dropped into my lap in a way I could never have imagined.

The news first came by way of a friend who is unrelated to the newspaper in any way. In fact, he is a father, husband and a missionary. A very unlikely bearer of such news except for this fact: Dick understands the deep and sometimes mysterious ways of faith because he has lived on the edge most of his life. He has boldly proclaimed His love for God and taken that message of love and faithfulness to far-off lands. When comfort and convention were not available, Dick learned to lean on God through prayer. In turn, he has learned to listen. What he is able to hear and understand from God can be truly amazing.

Our lives intertwined the morning a unique idea came to him as he showered. The idea: that Joan Klope would write a column about her experiences with faith. Being a good friend, a man of great faith, and recognizing over the years that remote ideas unrelated to his life are often a gift from a heavenly sender, he made a call to me and shared the news. “Gear up,” he said, “It is time to write about faith!”

I was amazed, even intrigued, but skeptical. There was already a religion column offered by the newspaper and I was busy raising three small children. When would I find the time to fashion a weekly column? And why me? I was a published writer but not a pastor.

Two weeks later I received a call from a section editor at the newspaper. Increased pastoral responsibilities had suddenly pulled the religion columnist in another direction. Would I consider writing a column that describes my weekly adventures with faith? They needed to line up a columnist — and fast!

I had no idea how I would fashion a column concept so quickly, but in minutes I typed the words, “Faithful Living” atop my computer screen and began writing my first column. I chose to tell the story of my Oklahoma grandparents and the summer afternoon in 1969 when we holed up in a walk-in cellar to avoid a quickly approaching tornado. While Grandpa topped his head with an old sal 'wester and ate an ample portion of blackberry cobbler, Grandma slapped at pesky mosquitoes in the dim light and prayed over us. Grandma understood that she could not change what was happening to us but she enjoyed full control over her spiritual response. She was faithfulness in action.

It is this picture of pure faith that fills my heart this week as I consider this eighth Fruit of the Spirit. Today Sarah Victoria Seaba Bay is 96 and has entered the twilight moments of her life. My precious grandmother, with a halo of pure white hair, battles congestive heart failure and the effects of declining circulation. But I know she is responding to these events as she has responded for nearly a century: she is praying and leaning on her faith to soothe her fears and diminish her pain. Such faith provides the assurance that her own impending death will only be a momentary parting with those she loves.

Faithfulness involves dying. Dying to self. Dying to the idea that we control our lives. Faithfulness acknowledges that there are times when life drops into our laps enormous opportunity to live boldly even when there is fear and surprise and pain. Such faith overcomes anything that science and technology can provide us.

So to Sarah Bay, a true woman of God, we honor your life. It has been lived well. You modeled faith in that cellar and from that moment on your seeds of faith have blossomed in two additional generations. Your legacy has only just begun and we anticipate the fruits of your faithfulness for generations to come.

Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books. Contact her at jbklope@hotmail.com

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