I mentioned Louise in a column last week. Louise is sad because she is not close to her adult daughters. When they were little she worked weekends and her husband worked weekdays so they didn't take family vacations. Now that they are grown, Louise is not the one the daughters share their hearts with-neither their joys nor their sorrows.
The daughters have also strayed from the Lord.
The Lord dropped a verse in Louise's mind, about being all things to all men so as to save some. Then, when Louise came across a newspaper article about an upcoming fashion show, she got the little idea to call her fashion-loving daughter and asked if they could go together. The daughter said yes. Later, when the new Nordstrom at the Plymouth Meeting Mall was having a promotional raffle, she called her again and they stood in line together at the grand opening.
Here is how Louise's actions were a testimony to me: First of all, she didn't give up. This is huge. Another person would have said it was too late to save these relationships and would have hunkered down in morbid and unproductive regret. That would have been the first temptation-some people would not have gotten past that first one. But Louise had a hope that characterizes someone who takes God at His word when He says, "For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
Secondly, Louise did not set out with some grandiose and Byzantine plan to reverse decades of damage. That would be another temptation, the panicky and self-reliant effort to do by one's own cleverness and exertion what a human being can never do. It is full of presumption and self-reliance.
Louise avoided both the Scylla and Charybdis of despairing inaction and fearful over-action. She seems to understand that God uses small, pinpoint obediences to do great things. She is therefore patient. She rightly divides her role from God's, not arrogating to herself the power to change hearts, but neither abdicating her responsibility in it. She does not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).
What most edified me was Louise's willingness to "go first." Everybody in the world is theoretically in favor of healing relationships-but nobody wants to go first! Why? Because you might well be rejected. Because you might well be ashamed. Because it might well break your heart.
But love is nothing if not taking risks. And what makes risk-taking doable for Louise is that she has a great invisible God behind her who loves her immeasurably, and who can catch her if her overtures should flop.