Stella’s Influence

stella

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.

BibleGift

BIBLE TEACHER

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 ACCOUNTABILITYhoop-net

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.

HOSPITABLE NEIGHBORinKitchenJune2012

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.

CHEERLEADERCheerOn
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).stella3

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.

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On August 30, 2013, Stella McIntire went Home to Jesus, leaving a legacy of reflecting Him to many, many lives …  read more or click here

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Col 4:7-18

Father, make me more like Jesus.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Father, You’ve said elsewhere in Your Word through Paul,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)

Here in his letter to the Colossians, he actually acts out what You’d led him to write in the letter to the Corinthians.  He shares about the various people in his life at that time who’ve been a support and comfort for him, especially while he was in prison.  Then, he sends some of the people and greetings from others in order to encourage, strengthen and comfort the portion of Your Church in Colosse.  Here’s how Paul related to his friends.  He was . . .

AFFIRMING OF THEM

How dear Paul’s friends had become!  You had given him an enormous and priceless treasure in each one.  The way in which he describes them causes me to reflect on the treasures You’ve revealed through the people You’ve placed in my life over the years:  “a dear brother,” “a faithful minister,” “fellow servant in the Lord,”  “faithful and dear brother,” “one of you,” “fellow prisoner,” “have proved a comfort to me,” “servant of Christ Jesus,” “always wrestling in prayer for you,” “working hard for you,” and “our dear friend.”  Through his words, he was able to be AFFIRMING of them, pointing out to others how You were using their lives to touch another.

THANKFUL FOR THEM

This entire portion of the letter to the Colossians has an aroma of gratitude, as it becomes very evident that Paul is THANKFUL for them.  They were “dear” to him, folks he cherished, especially in the gift of knowing them.  He considered them “faithful,” or people he knew he could count on.  He enjoyed their company as “fellow” whatever, be it “servant,” “prisoners,” or “workers.”  Paul knew and expressed how blessed he’d been by the gifts of these friends You’d supplied.

GENEROUS WITH THEM

In addition, when it came to his friends, Paul was GENEROUS with them.  He shared them with others in Your kingdom, like the Colossians.  He sent them out for purposes like “that you may know about our circumstances” and “that he may encourage Your hearts.”  He encouraged the Colossians by letting them know that one of his friends was “always wrestling in prayer for” them–with the aim that they might “stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  (Father, remind me to pray those things for those who are dear to me!)

Father, indeed You have blessed my life with soooooooo MANY people who have been used by You in my life–much in the same ways You used these folks in Paul’s life, and some even more!  In my friendship with these people-blessings, may I be AFFIRMING of them, THANKFUL for them and GENEROUS with them.

Thanks for Paul’s example and for the reflection of Your heart in his.  Make it so others can see Jesus in me when they look at me too.  Amen.