My mother, Mozelle Bridgers Bullard, was a person of great Christian vision and insight. She could see Jesus with her heart, soul, mind, and strength even when she could not see him with her eyes.
Among the many ministries she had in life was a prayer and greeting card ministry that by my estimation included over 300 people. This involved a wall calendar she hung in her kitchen. On that calendar were the names of individuals and couples on the day of their birthday or wedding anniversary.
A week or so before their special day my mother would purchase a card for each person, write a caring note on it, and place it in the mail to them. On their special day, usually at 10:00 a.m., my mother would be on her knees beside her bed praying for those people. For those people who knew not only about the card they received, but the prayer that was offered, it was an important life comfort and encouragement from Mozelle Bullard.
During the last decade of my mother’s life, she suffered from macular degeneration. It was slow moving, but the procedures available at the time could not stop–much less reverse–its impact on her eyesight. Gradually she lost the sharpness of her eyesight, then some of her forward vision, and eventually she lost all forward or central vision.
In the last few years of her life she could no longer see to write her cards and letters. She had to depend on family members and a woman who spent a half-day with her several days each week.
Simultaneously, my mother had multiple types of arthritis that were progressing in her body, and particularly impacted the functioning of her hands, feet, and knees. The result was that she also got to the point where she could not kneel by her bed to offer insightful prayers from a true follower of Jesus.
While this did not stop her from praying sitting in her favorite chair, it was not the same. This coupled with the inability to shop for cards, write notes, see that they were mailed, and kneel by her bed to pray for these people caused her to feel her life had lost a sense of purpose.
She started thinking about her life situation very deeply. She did not verbalize this to me when I talked with her. One day when her pastor was visiting she did verbalize her feelings and despair to him.
Mike was a very caring and wise pastor. He was a great person with whom she could talk. She asked him, “Mike, is it alright if I pray that I die?”
He thought for a moment or two. Then he said to her, “No, Mozelle, it is not alright if you pray that you die. But it is alright that you pray that the will of God might be done about your life and death.”
My mother had not really lost insightful vision. She had lost her eyesight. My mother, in spite of the fact that she could clearly see Jesus with her heart, soul, mind, and strength, could not have the vital and vibrant life she longed for without also literally walking by sight.
She could not look at the face of people she loved. The clarity of her memory of those faces was fading. While she could see Jesus with her heart, she could no longer see Jesus in the faces of people she loved and was called anew to love.
Implications for Your Congregation
My mother’s situation has implications for your congregation. Here are a few.
First, true vision involves the ability to see Jesus in people and situations with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is deeper than seeing them with just your eyes. This understands the depth of who they are as people of potential and followers of Jesus.
Second, if we only look on the outward appearance we may not see the ability of the unconditional love of Jesus to transform people and situations. In the spirit of Matthew 25 we must see the Jesus potential in the lives of people we encounter.
Third, as human beings it is also true we have a need to see evidence of what the unconditional love of Jesus does not only in the heart, soul, mind, and strength of people who accept the love of Jesus, but also how it changes the expression on their faces.