Sometimes one word can so readily describe a person’s life, yet have many avenues by which it does so. While I was reflecting on Stella’s life, the word that kept rising to the surface was “influence.” Part of the word’s definition is “to have an effect on the condition or development of.” Allow me to share some of the key ways through which Stella influenced and had an effect upon my life.
From ages 8 – 12, Stella taught me in Sunday School in the basement of Griffin Christian Church.
When I was 12, I chose to follow Jesus. Her teaching pointed me toward Jesus and encouraged me to make a decision that would guide the rest of my life, impact others through me, and influence my eternity beyond this world.
SOURCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
By age 8, I’d saved up several of the half dollar coins my grandpa had been giving me since Kindergarten for good grades. One Saturday, I went to Stinson’s Hardware and used those coins to buy a basketball hoop and net. Dad mounted them on a shed by our house. The next morning, a Sunday morning, for the first time ever as a child, I skipped Sunday School … and I stayed home to shoot hoops.
Sometime during the week after that, my Sunday School teacher, Stella, gave me a gentle and loving reminder about priorities … I can’t remember missing Sunday School again for the rest of my childhood. Her simple reminder planted a seed in me for influencing how I evaluate what’s most important in this life.
During my 5th grade year, my family moved from the south end of Griffin (by the interstate) to the north end of town, just a few doors west of Stella and Junior. Many times I would ride my bike over to visit Stella, who welcomed me for a chat whenever she had time. Her hospitality was a cherished gift during my pre-teen and teen years.
In reality, the time she offered then actually influenced me as an adult. As I reflected on this piece of Stella’s life, I recalled a season of my life when I lived in a different small town and hosted neighborhood kids at my place too, shining the love of Jesus into their lives as Stella had done with me. Her example had been reproduced in me to influence others many years later.
In my college and adult years, I would occasionally see Stella during times I was back in Griffin. Her consistent message during those times would be that she was proud of me and the person I’d become. I’m thankful that she could know that the Lord used her as an instrument for shaping me to live for the Lord, allowing Him to use me to influence the lives of others.
In the pages of the Bible, the Word of God, that Stella helped me learn to understand and love, there are these words that were penned by Paul to one of his students, Timothy.
“… remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Stella was one of those who taught me the Scriptures from childhood. She taught not only in the little classroom in the basement at the church building, but also in her kitchen, her living room, her yard, and through her life.
I’m so grateful that Stella poured her life into mine. I’m thankful for her influence that continues to have ripple effects throughout the years.
Because of her life, I know Jesus.
Because I know Jesus, my life has never ever been the same.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~