Lou Gardner died last night. Surrounded by love and prayers, she went back to God who sent her to us so long ago. Lou was a member of the church I served for 21 years and she was a memorable character, but of a type that everyone who attends a church will recognize.
Lou’s mother died when she was just a young girl, so Lou – as the oldest – became the mother to her sisters. Lou got used to working hard. In fact, it was very rare to see her sitting still even when she was in her late 80’s. She was always up and doing for others. She took care of her husband and three children. When her children were grown, she worked as a waitress and mothered all the other people who worked at the restaurant. Not having any grandchildren, she adopted all the children of the church as her own. Because Lou was short, only 4’10”, all the children of the church measured their own growth by her and could tell you when they got taller than Mrs. Gardner.
But where Lou Gardner really shone was in taking care of people. She made dozens of phone calls a day, checking up on folks. If you weren’t at church for a while, you got a call from Lou. If you were sick, she would be at your house that evening with a meal. I would often call on the shut-ins only to find out that Lou had just been there. She worked at anything she did with joy, knowing that by serving others, she was serving the Christ she loved with her whole heart.
Most of us are privileged to know people like Lou Gardner. Sometimes we take them for granted because they are always there, working for God. And, although we all have different gifts, I think we should all aspire to be people like Lou: forgetting ourselves and serving God in any way, big or small, we can. Lou embodied the verses from Matthew 25: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
What are you doing to serve God? How are you becoming one of the saints who serve without thinking of self – focused entirely on God and on others? How can you be more joyous in the service that you do?