Archive for April 2012
By Virginia Kremer
WHILE waiting for something to finish cooking, my eyes absently came to rest on my kitchen timer. The last time I had really looked at it, it was shiny new. That was 30 years ago! I picked it up thinking how old and worn it was. Its imitation wood sides were scratched and there were a couple of marks left in haste by buttered fingers. Nicks on the plastic rim were the results of falls, and its face had become cloudy. As I turned it over, the decorative gold-coloured cap in the middle slipped off as usual, reminding me that although I had planned many times to glue it back in place, once the timer’s work was done, I had not thought of it again. Who thinks about an old kitchen timer as long as it works? And why not replace it by a new, modern version?
Looking at it in amazement and wondering where the time had gone since I’d received it as a wedding gift, I thought of the person who had given it to me: Anna. Tears came to my eyes. I had never really mourned her death a few years ago. Her passing away had happened when I, myself, was facing the desperate situation of my husband’s serious illness.
I pictured her jolly, smiling face, twinkling eyes, ruddy cheeks, and grey hair, once black and curly, pulled back in a bun. Anna was from a large farming family of Mennonites in Alsace. She had wanted to play the saxophone as a young person, but her very strict father considered that a sin. She had rebelled and gone out into the “world” but early on realized that without God, life had no meaning. She came back to the faith of her fathers and opened her heart to the love of God and to salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. Her life was turned around and she became an ardent witness to His grace and saving power. Her great desire was to serve Him as a missionary all the days of her life and she made known her calling to the elders of her church. Anna was a farm girl with minimum schooling and no qualifications. She was sent to work in the home of a prominent Christian family whose vocation was to send out missionaries. There, she was to clean and cook, and in other words, be their servant. She had her little room up under the eaves on the third floor and was on call twenty-four hours a day!
A call frustrated?
She never made it to the mission field. She spent her life up to her retirement doing what she did best: cooking, cleaning and working in the garden. There may have been times when she was a little frustrated; she had had such a clear calling. But wherever Anna went, be it in a shop or at the market or on the train or talking to someone at the door, everyone remarked her beaming face and cheery presence. She always spoke a word for the Lord. She had the gift of evangelism. Even the most defiant or disinterested could not resist her words of wisdom and truth. Not only did she believe, but she also put what she believed in practice. The children in the Sunday School loved to hear her tell Bible stories and several generations called her “Aunt Anna”. Some of them went on to serve the Lord.
Taken for granted
When I was in the home where Anna served, she was such a joy and encouragement to me. Somehow, she made life easier, smoothed out the rough places and made me feel at home. Yet, Anna was only a servant. Everyone took her for granted. She was always there. No one seemed to notice that the years were passing, that time and work were taking their toll. Who cares about an old servant? When she can’t work anymore, she will be replaced.
Faithful and fruitful
Anna has gone home to be with the Lord she loved and served so faithfully. She didn’t get to be a missionary and go to a foreign field as she had dreamed, but she didn’t let that stop her from being a true witness to Christ where she was. Anna served a number of God’s servants. Some of them may not have even taken much notice of her, but it wouldn’t surprise me that when we all stand before God’s throne and the rewards are passed out, Anna might just be up in the front row among the most faithful!
Now when I pick up my timer, I always think of Anna, and thankfully remember that God is not like us. He doesn’t use people and then replace them when they are old or no longer physically useful. He sees and knows the hidden motives of the heart. He does not stop at the outward appearance, the superficial spirituality, the ‘importance’ of the person in men’s eyes, the apparent usefulness or success or education. He looks at the heart, the love there for Him and for others, the humble service where there is no place for self-glory.
I’ve learned so much from my old kitchen timer and from Anna! ■
Virginia lives in France, where she worked for many years with her late husband, Etienne, as members of the Mission-Foi- Evangile.
This article was first printed in Life Indeed, November/December 2004