Shepherdess: Real Christians

Real Christians. A pile of dirt and a friend at the right time help a pastor's wife to understand what being a Christian really means.

Charlotte Erickson is a minister's wife and a mother who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dear Shepherdess: How eagerly we look forward to spring! I was interested in some springtime reflections from our wives in various places. Norma Jean Seal Sahlin writes, "Recently I reveled in the bright sunshine. (Yes, the sun did shine for a few days somewhere in Pennsylvania!) A friend laughed with me. Six hours later I was complaining loudly about the cold and the failure (for the tenth time) of my trusty Pinto. My friend laughed again. "I thought this was the day you were going to dance on the lawn to celebrate spring!" After shelling out $53 for a battery, I thought about what had happened. As long as everything was all right, my mood was happy. But if one.thing went wrong, my whole day was spoiled. I was dismayed at how much I let the negative affect me. By the way, spring is coming. The sun now reaches our dining-room window. Since this room faces west, that's a sure sign.

Phyllis Escobar says, "Spring in Hawaii, the Paradise of the Pacific, is truly a blessed time of year. I didn't know there would be a difference in sea sons when I first moved here, but many of the trees are sprouting new leaves and blossoms that soon will bear fruit or colorful flowers. As I see the dead, brown leaves of my avocado tree fall, and the new ones burst forth, I am re minded of the second coming of Christ. Even our bodies will be changed, never to die again!"

As my own springtime reflection, I would like to share a verse that appeared in a card sent me by Pastor and Mrs. Pinkney during a trying hour in my life.

"There is nothing in life God ever asks us to bear

That we can't soar above on wings of prayer,

And in looking back over the storm you passed through,

You'll find you gained strength and new courage, too."

—Helen Steiner Rice


Charlotte Erickson, a minister's wife and a mother who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, tells this month of an experience she had in sharing real Christian togetherness. As you read it, may her concluding purpose become yours. And as springtime returns to our restless world, may all of us bask in the sunshine of our heavenly Father's love and guidance. With love, Kay.


Real Christians

by Charlotte Erickson

I looked in despair at the mound of black dirt in our driveway. How in the world could I ever handle it all by my self?

An unusually wet spring and several heavy downpours had caused water to begin coming into the basement of our new house. After assessing the situation, our builder decided the problem could be solved by putting more dirt around the foundation. He even volunteered to bring a free truckload of dirt and leave it in our driveway.

The day the dirt arrived, more rain was in the forecast. My minister husband was out of town and would not be back for several days. Therefore, since I wanted neither more water in the basement nor a driveway full of black mud to be tracked into the house by two children and a cocker spaniel, I knew it was up to me to get the dirt where it be longed, even though I was still recovering from major surgery.

After hauling only two wheelbarrows full of damp dirt up the slope to the side of our house, I had had enough. Exhausted and discouraged, I threw down the shovel, went back into the house, and collapsed onto the sofa. "The basement can just float away," I sighed. "I'm too tired to move another inch!"

A few minutes later a knock at the back door brought me to my weary feet. It was a next-door neighbor and close friend. She had known about the water in the basement and had seen the truckload of dirt in the driveway. She also knew my husband was away.

"Give up or just resting?" she asked.

"I gave up," I groaned.

"Don't give up. I just dug these dirty jeans out of the hamper and I'm all set to help you."

"Oh, Sharon," I complained. "I just can't push that wheelbarrow up the hill one more time!"

"Come on," she urged with a smile, "you help me get the dirt into the wheelbarrow and I'll push it up the hill. We've got to get it done before it rains."

With renewed courage, I donned my muddy sneakers and gloves, and together we tackled the seemingly impossible task. I knew Sharon grew tired of hauling load after load of dirt, but not once did she complain. Instead she laughed and joked about how "quickly time flies when you're having fun" and how she wouldn't have to do her exercises that night!

With the dirt firmly packed around the house at last, we rested in her kitchen while our children played. A few hours later it began to rain, but I could relax in the knowledge that the work had gotten done in time.

Later as I recounted the incident to my husband, he said, "Sharon's a real Christian, isn't she?"

Yes, I thought to myself. A real Christian.

Sharon goes to mass on Sunday morning while I go to the Seventh-day Adventist services on Saturday. Sharon and I see many religious points differently. Yet I thought of all the times she had helped me taking care of my children; looking after our yard when we were away; just listening when I was lonely and needed someone to talk to. Yes, Sharon is certainly a real Christian.

Then I wondered about myself. I'm a minister's wife, but do my neighbors consider me a Christian? Am I someone they can turn to for help? I hoped so. I had tried to be, but now I determined to try even harder.

When we move away from this neighborhood, I want the people on my street to be able to say, "Those Seventh-day Adventists are really Christians, aren't they?"


Prayers from the parsonage

by Cherry B. Habenicht

Our home looked so cozy those short, gray days of winter. Eating steaming oatmeal in the dim dawn, I didn't notice spatters on the kitchen walls. I could watch sifted snow without thinking of washing windows. In the pink-and-blue dusk I'd draw the curtains, light a candle, and never see fingerprints on the table edge.

But today! Lord, what a dazzling day You sent today! Sunshine flooded every room, revealing all the smudges and blemishes my lick-and-a-promise cleaning had left untouched.

I saw oil specks on the refrigerator, dust puffs under the bed, and cobwebs in the hanging lamp. I wanted to wipe top shelves, scrub woodwork, and polish furniture in a spring-cleaning frenzy.

Thank You, Lord, for that brilliant sun, inspiring me even as it ruthlessly penetrates.

Is that how I appear in Your sight? Have I been lulled into the false assurance that my life looks "pretty good"? It's so easy to think that pesky little habits are under control, but when the Light of the world beams into all the crooks and crevices, I see the truth.

"Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults" (Ps. 19:12). Please, God, let there be no dusty corners in my heart.


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Charlotte Erickson is a minister's wife and a mother who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

March 1979

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