Life with Aunt Titus was never dull, but also never chaotic either. She always went about her life slowly with a determined purpose to a goal. Her days of having the few women from church come in to have a bible study was just such a time. I remember one young wife who used to come over earlier than all the rest. She seemed to always be upset about her life. Well, let’s step back in time and see what I mean.
“Come on in dear. The coffee is hot and the tea kettle is on the stove. I have a few donuts on the table if your hungry.’ Aunt Titus grabbed her cup and sat down with this woman often.
‘I just am so upset with that husband of mine” she said one day. ‘I can’t get him to pick up his dirty socks let alone wipe out the sink after he washes the grease off his hands.’ Aunt Titus stirred her coffee slowly and let the woman speak. She went on and on about her husband. Aunt Titus asked her one question. ‘Dear, can you show me in the bible where it says to train up a husband in the way he should go?’
The woman stopped talking. ‘Well, I’m not that familiar with the bible.’ ‘No, it isn’t in there.’ my aunt said. Aunt Titus smiled at her and then asked another question. “Do you wish for me to meet with him and you to perhaps talk this out Margie?”
‘Oh no, I mean it wouldn’t do any good. He’d just get angry I said anything.” She was nervous then.
“Well, it’s like this dear; we are not put on this earth to train our husbands. Yet, we can demonstrate a Godly influence on them by our response to little things like dirty socks. It would serve no purpose for you to complain to anyone about it, except the Lord. Make it a priority to come before the Lord with all of your frustrations and ask his help and guidance. Remember, the Lord will work on you first. He will give you eyes to see the whole picture. You will be amazed at what he will do. But first be sure to thank the Lord for the husband that you have. Make a list of all the things about him that you are thankful for. Never make a negative list. If God were to make lists of our offenses, why we would be in the frying pan.
Margie was silent a moment staring into her coffee cup. ‘He will work on me? But my husband needs some work.’ Her face reddened a bit. ‘I really shouldn’t gossip about it then, right? I never thought I should tell this to the Lord. He is just for the big stuff.’
The door opened as another women came in. ‘No, the Lord is interested in being a part of every aspect of our life. He wants us to grow in him, and we have to go to him first. I remember my Sam used to get under my skin when he threw things on top of the hamper. But, the real issue was my response, not him putting things there. I asked the Lord to guide my heart. So, I left the top off the hamper. He asked why and I explained I was trying to make life easier for him. He ended up putting the lid down but he seldom threw things on top. I guess he didn’t like the looks of the dirty clothes. Yet, I never complained. I asked the Lord for guidance. “
Nancy got herself a cup of coffee and sat down quietly. Aunt Titus reached over and took hold of her hand. ‘Good morning dear! It’s so good to see you. Try one of these donuts. It’s a new recipe I found in my mother’s old trunk. I was cleaning out the attic again. I always find more things and seldom throw anything away. But, at least my attic is clean and organized.”
‘Mmmm, these are delicious!’
Three other women came in giggling and took their coffee or tea. ‘Oh, wonderful donuts! I just love Wednesdays! It’s so cozy here!’
When all of the group had sat down and relaxed, my Aunt took out her bible. ‘Before we begin ladies, I want each of you to tell me something good that has happened this week.”
One by one the woman had a chance to say something. Aunt Titus then nodded and smiled. ‘Well, it’s time to thank God then. Who wants to start? Margie was the first one to pray. She gave thanks for her husband. She then gave thanks for the fact that she was a stay at home wife and mother. She thanked God that she had a babysitter so she could come to see everyone on Wednesdays. The women all prayed and gave thanks.
That day my aunt spoke to the ladies about taking everything to the Lord in prayer. ‘It is so easy to complain to our family or friends about an issue without first taking the issue to the Lord.. Proverbs 3 : 6 says ‘In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.’ also Philippians 4:6 is my favorite though ‘Do not be anxious about anything but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanks giving , present your requests to God” the next verse is good too. “And the peace of God that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Your bible study for this week is to read those verses and also chapter 4 in Philippians. We will talk about it next week. Now I want to tell you a story that I just told Margie about my personal experience with Sam.” She told the story and explained that she had gone to the Lord before she did anything.
‘So often when women get together we can share experiences and it’s good to share how the Lord is working in our lives. I encourage you to share. If need be, we as a group will give a little testimony too. I could have gotten all upset about those dirty clothes, or I could have left them there. Mind you, he probably wouldn’t have noticed. But that would have stolen my joy. I had no intention of teaching him a lesson. No, there was a problem and my response was part of it. So, I took it to God. He alone is the teacher.’
Margie also spoke up. ‘I learned something also today. Aunt Titus was gracious not to say anything but I wanted to confess something. I have a habit of getting upset with my husband and than gossiping to everyone, instead of praying first. I plan to change that with His help.”
The girls all nodded and expressed their own habits before taking them to the Lord first. ‘I guess we forget He is the God of the little things as well as the big.’
The women spent time praying and then laughing over the various stories that were told by my aunt. I saw miracles happen around my aunt’s table as weary women found joy, peace and answers to of life’s questions.
Later that day as I was sitting on the porch swing, my aunt came out with some home grown green beans. She carried them in a kettle and sat there on the swing with me. She began snapping them as she spoke with me. As usual,I had a few questions for her. The day was almost over and the afternoon sun gleamed off the white porch. I used to love to sit there looking at the pansies Aunt Titus planted.
‘Aunt Titus, those women today sure had a lot of problems. I mean, they go to church so I just figured they were happy.”
My aunt smiled. ‘Well my sweet, the life of a Christian has just as many problems as any other person. The difference is how we respond. So often people try to fix things all on their own. When we have a Father in heaven who knows how to fix it perfectly. For those women who know the Lord though, the response to life’s problems is more important than the problem itself. Our flesh crys out for vengeance and we have to remember what the Lord said. For instance, when you have a friend who is mean to you. Do you forgive them or hold a grudge and hang on to anger?”
“Well, I get angry and stay mad for a while. But I get tired of it and want to play with that person again.” I said.
‘Hmm, that’s true. You see, when we get angry that tires us out. We can yell and make a real mess of things with what we say and then we are so tired afterwards. But, words are powerful and when we speak in anger, we hurt the person who hurt us.”
I shook my head. ‘Well, they hurt us first though.’
Aunt Titus snapped a few more beans before she answered. ‘Yes, but the Lord said ‘vengeance is mine’. If we go around seeking revenge ourselves we will be sorry in the end. God gave us a wonderful gift for times like those. It’s called forgiveness.’
‘Forgiveness?? That’s not a gift, it’s a law. The bible says to do it or God won’t forgive you.’ I swung my feet knowing that I was right on this one.
Aunt Titus laughed. ‘What happens when you forgive? You take a load of pent up anger and hurt and throw it away. Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the one being forgiven. We should realize what forgiveness means. When Jesus forgave your sins, do you know what he did?’
I thought for a moment. ‘Well, it meant he wasn’t angry at me anymore. It meant everything was ok again.’
Aunt Titus nodded her head. ‘What he did was make it so that you did not have to pay for your sins. He already paid on the cross. All you have to do is confess them to him. When we forgive others, it means that they don’t owe you anything. You are setting them free from the hurt they caused. God set us free when Jesus paid for our sins. That is why he said we should also forgive others., as he forgave us.’
‘But what if that person who hurt you doesn’t ask for forgiveness. Is it OK to stay mad then?’
‘Nope, we forgive them anyway. That doesn’t mean we automatically trust them, that takes time. If someone steals from you, you may forgive them but don’t give them a chance to steal again. Do you understand? God expects us to forgive with or without an apology. This sets us free from holding on to that anger and resentment. If we hold on to that, it will fester for years and then just get worse. We will be forever reminding ourselves of why we are angry, just to stay angry. The anger will make us very tired and we won’t be very happy at all.’
‘What about wars? How come we go to war? Doesn’t make sense if we are supposed to forgive then. I mean, they blew up ships in the war and killed people.’
Aunt Titus stood up with her kettle of snapped beans. She sighed and smiled. ‘Well, you will have to wait for an answer on that one child. It’s a very good question but I will pray for guidance before getting into that long discussion. OK?’
I smiled. ‘OK,I just wondered. How long until supper?’
‘Well, if I can find someone to help set the table I can have it ready in an hour.’
I hopped off the swing. Just as I got into the kitchen , Dad and Uncle Sam came in the back door. They smelled like pine trees. The smells from that kitchen are with me forever. The food cooking, the smell of pine when dad and uncle Sam came in, and the sweet smell of peace as we sat down together.
to be continued....