Amy Cate Smith
From Pearls to Glory
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to write this post.
A big part of me has no words.
The other part of me has too many words.
Over three years ago, I was sitting in a ministry training class “Ministering to Women in Crisis.” I was the youngest one in the room by far. I was sitting by myself, minding my own business before class started when this loud, sweet voice from the front said “You’ve got a story, don’t you?” Was she looking at me? She could not be talking to me. There’s no way. Oh but she was. I nodded my head hoping nobody would look at me. She said “You’re going to have to tell me that story.” At this point I’m thinking.. this crazy woman wants me to stand in front of all these strangers and tell them about my life?
“Talk to me after.”
Dr. Deb, better known as Pearl, believed in me more than I have ever believed in myself. While just about every part of me wanted to run fast after class, a part of my heart told me to stay, told me to share and told me to step out.
I am eternally grateful I stayed. She said she “just saw something in me.” Pearl taught me every day to step out of my comfort zone and step into all God has for me. She taught me this every day I knew her. Pearl was always there for me, whether it was midnight or 2:00 in the afternoon. When I couldn’t figure out something in ministry or in my personal life, she was always there. She has walked me through really tough deaths, really tough seasons and really tough moments. She has celebrated with me during ministry victories, life successes and joyful times. She never ended a conversation without telling me how much she loved me and how proud she was of me. I miss that so much.
I met her during the most crucial summer of ministry probably ever. I was over a year into Girl Talk, having just finished my sophomore year of college and while I had been called to ministry since middle school, it wasn’t until this season I knew God was calling me full time. The same season that brought me the person who would become so important to my entire ministry journey.
Almost two months exactly after meeting Pearl, the church I serve in today called me to start a Girls Ministry. I would not have gotten through the last three years if it weren’t for Pearl. I don’t know that I even would have started without her.
While Pearl traded her earthly pearls for Heaven’s Glory, Jesus is still using Pearl’s life and legacy to teach me so much. I don’t think He has plans to stop teaching those that knew her and even those who did not get to meet her. God is not done using Pearl. I wanted to share just a few of the things God has taught me these last two weeks:
Pearl’s life was about Jesus, and because of Jesus we can press on-
I hear this about ministry a lot “If your ministry can’t stand after you leave then your ministry was not about Jesus, it was about you.” This is the same about our life and our legacy. If our life, or maybe the people we pour into, can’t stand without us, then our life and our legacy is not about Jesus, our life and legacy is about us.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and think how do we keep going? Pearl helped me through everything. But if we can’t stand without Pearl, if we can’t keep going, we make her life, her wisdom, all the things we miss about her have nothing to do with Jesus. Stopping without her makes her life about Pearl. And we know that isn’t true. We know that isn’t how she lived her life. Nothing about Pearl’s life was about her. It was all about Jesus. We love Pearl and we miss Pearl because of who Jesus was in and through her. That’s why we can press on with hope knowing we have her life and legacy through Jesus and we will all be together again because of Him.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Is your life about you or is it about Jesus? Are you building your legacy through Christ to live on without you or are you building your life to just let it pass away with you?
Pearl’s wisdom was from God and God gives us wisdom–
I didn’t realize how many questions run through my head throughout the day because I always just sent them straight to Pearl. I asked her everything.
It reminds me of James 1:5 “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God — who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly — and it will be given to him.” He graciously and ungrudgingly will show us wisdom in His Word, His creation, His plan, His circumstances and all things Him. Our number one source of wisdom is God. With His Wisdom, He also gives us people in our lives to share with us the wisdom He has given them.
Proverbs 13:20 tells us ”the one who walks with the wise will become wise,” I always try to surround myself with wise people. Deb was one of the wisest women I know and going to her for wisdom is part of the model God has in displayed for all us. If God didn’t mean for us to be discipled and to be mentoring others, He wouldn’t have allowed the discipleship we see with Jesus and the mentoring we see throughout the New Testament. That is our example. We are made for discipleship.
Where do you get your wisdom? Are you passing on your wisdom from God to others? Are you discipling someone and being discipled?
Pearl knew the power of the Body of Christ-
We all know the saying “It’s all about who you know.” Pearl was constantly telling me “Oh you have to meet her.” “I can’t wait to introduce you to her.” “I can’t wait for you two to be friends.” One thing I have learned from this is that Pearl always wanted to share the people God put in her path because she knew we weren’t “hers,” we are all God’s daughters and God is meant for us to be in fellowship with one another. She wasn’t jealous, she knew the power of a good connection and the power of the body of Christ. She was always connecting and putting people together to further the Kingdom even more.
I have loved connecting and reconnecting with people Deb mentored and poured into. All week I’ve been referring to this as our “Pearl Pot” as I tell others. I feel like we’ve all come together and all the wisdom God has poured into Pearl, she poured into us and now it’s being shared by all of us from our Pearl Pot. We can take out wisdom and put wisdom in. While this wisdom is through Pearl, it’s ultimately from God and we continue to seek wisdom from God in this absence of Pearl today. Because her wisdom always pointed us right there- to God.
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Do you share the people God put into your life with others or do you keep them for yourselves? Do you connect with others to further the Kingdom or do you keep ministry to yourself because you feel competition with others?
I pray He will surround us with the wise who will also build us in His wisdom, but only second to wisdom directly from Him. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His Mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6
I could go on forever talking about all the things I have learned from Dr. Deb and the things God is continuing to show me. I plan to live them out every day. I am thankful for the endless love Pearl always had for me and the endless patience. Wow, to believe in myself the way Pearl believed in me. I will miss her “I love you and I am proud of you.” texts on really hard days. They always came at the perfect time. God always carved out time for us in the stillness of night when our schedules and our hearts linked up together for the perfect divine time moment. I pray every day to be more like her.
Thank you to the Douglas family for sharing Pearl with so many of us. Her love lives on through all of you.. she loved you all so much.