By Michelle Axton Kelly
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 NIV
My girlfriends never noticed the pause in my step as we entered the antique shop. Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” held me captive and for a moment I was eight years old again.
I’d sit at her feet. Mom mesmerized me when she played piano. Chopin and Pachelbel were favorites. Their music transported us toward adventure. Mom was fascinated by cultures so very different from our own and dreamt of travel that would come in the future.
Then one day the music stopped.
At 36 her body attacked itself leaving her crippled and weak. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects more than 2 million Americans.
Mom was brave. As kids we never realized the pain and grief she experienced. But nothing could prepare her for the day her hands truly failed her… that dreadful morning when the doctor told her she would never play a piano again. A piece of her heart shattered. Grief. Loss. Her piano. Her world.
Yet, the remarkable part of mom’s story doesn’t end with her illness or even her passing. No, her story is compelling because when every dream she had for herself was stripped away she simply said, “God, use me.”
It was her peace with the life that God had chosen for her that prompted people to confide in her. Her phone constantly rang with a friend who wanted someone to listen.
And her compassion and empathy for strangers pulled her out of bed on days when her body said, “No.” She made dinners for grieving widows, taught Sunday school to mentally challenged friends. She even worked to train top physicians how to better examine and treat RA patients.
Her Christ-like love for others prompted her to perform random acts of kindness. Little Mo. Maureen. She knew that despite her physical limitations she was a child of God.
And because of this, she made a choice to be joyful and start each morning with giving of herself to help others in Jesus’ name.
After a brief stay in the hospital mom passed. We were devastated. But what surprised us were the tears shared with the critical care nurses. They barely knew her and surely must see loss often. Like all of us, they were blessed by mom’s faith, grace, and optimism.
She taught me to stay away from asking God, “Why?” Instead? She’d ask us to declare, “Use me. I’m ready to serve.”
How is God using challenges in your life to grow you spiritually? Does it give you a sense of peace to know God can use the best and worst parts of your life to grow you and His kingdom? Are there people in your life who inspire you?
Those perhaps who have every reason to give up and be bitter, but instead with a heart like Joseph, charge ahead asking God to reveal His purpose given their new circumstances?
Dear God, thank You for using all the best and worst parts of my life to bless others. I pray that I always look to You for peace and not my circumstances or the world surrounding me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2018 by Michelle Axton Kelly. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Thursday, 28 September 2023.