In December 1996 we received a promotional video tape about the town of Farmville. Rocky had been offered the job as pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church and the search committee sent all kinds of information to help us make a decision. Some Huntsville, AL friends watched the video with me. In it, there was a sweet-looking woman who was shown taking a pie to neighbors and visiting in their home. We all got a laugh from that hokey scene. “There is no way that woman is real,” we said. Less than three months later our family moved here. We experienced an outpouring of hospitality from multitudes of church members and from neighbors like the Allens and the Andrews. We certainly never expected anything like it. One day a neighbor named Minnie Lee Winborn walked down North Waverly Street bearing a homemade pie. She was the woman from the video. Later I had to call my Huntsville friends to verify that the woman from the video indeed was real and actually brought us dessert.
Yesterday I got to spend a little time with Minnie Lee in her assisted living facility. I can’t count the number of times that she looked me straight in the eye and said “God bless you. I love you.” It reminded me of a portion of a Francis Chan book I’m reading called “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.” In it he says, “Have you ever met someone who was utterly and desperately in love with Jesus? I have. My wife’s grandma Clara. Grandma Clara acted toward God the way we act toward people we’re madly in love with. When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. You’ll drive hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while. You don’t mind staying up late to talk.”
Do you know people that in love with God? Do you ever hang out with those who have been, as Brennan Manning puts it, “seized by the power of a great affection?” (“The Ragamuffin Gospel” has got to be one of the best books of all time.) Minnie Lee is just one example of myriads of Christians who effuse the love of God. Her passion was teaching. For many years she cared for public school children as she taught in Farmville. She also served a children’s Sunday School class at Farmville United Methodist Church for years and years. If a student missed a morning she would hand-deliver the lesson to her/his home. In her pocket on daily walks she carried treats for all of the neighborhood dogs. She never missed an opportunity to invite someone to church. To this day she has her Bible and devotional book right next to her bed. I can tell that the staff where she lives recognizes her special qualities.
In Matthew 22:37 Jesus references Deuteronomy 6:5 when he instructs us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” May we do everything possible to fan into flame this devotion. As for God, in lyrics penned by Michael Card, it is true that “He cannot love more and will not love less.”