To Love and Risk Loving Again . . .

You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14, 16).

 Stunned, I held the phone receiver in my hand. Sally? Passed away?

Although we lived only three houses from her, our paths never crossed in ten years. My husband just happened to see her one day and suggested I visit. With Baby Elisabeth on my hip, I walked down the hill and tapped on her door. What began as a casual acquaintance slowly evolved into a friendship.

On the verge of a second divorce, Sally had no living relatives. Our family welcomed her for holidays, Sunday dinners, and even birthdays. Our girls made cards and cookies, squeezed in the back seat when we took her to church, and grinned when the phone rang—again!

Only later in our relationship with Sally did we realize the extent of her alcoholism. I found my desire to help and my mounting frustration at odds as we observed patterns of self-pity and victim thinking. She met with our pastor, asked God to give her a clean heart, and confessed her sin to a loving Savior. Even then, she continued to struggle. Yet, Sally knew God loved her, no matter what.

The night before the funeral, as I tucked seven-year-old Elisabeth into bed, she whispered, “It’s not the same without Miss Sally here.” Tears slipped down our cheeks unchecked as we felt a wave of grief wash over us.

I finally found my voice. “Remember when Daddy read Pilgrim’s Progress to you and Help came at just the right time to give Pilgrim the encouragement he needed? Well, I think God wanted us to help Miss Sally, and now our job is finished. But maybe He’ll send us someone else to help.”

With cheeks still wet, she smiled. “I hope so, Mommy.”

Later that night, I quietly contemplated the events of the last several years. We tried to help Sally, but maybe she helped us more. Each one in our family was touched by a life—a life that mattered to God, a life that will cause us to see others with more compassion, understanding, and grace, a life that helped teach a little girl to love and risk loving again.

Has God placed someone in your path with whom you can show God’s love and compassion? Someone who needs the good news of a story-changing Savior? I hope you’ll consider the opportunity. And don’t be surprised if the experience also changes you.



Sarah Lynn Phillips

Sarah Lynn Phillips shares the inspiring story of her family’s near-fatal car crash in her award-winning book, Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story. For individual or group study, she has also written a companion Leader’s Guide with reproducible study sheets. Her articles, devotions, and poems have appeared in numerous online and print publications. Through her writing and speaking, Sarah offers a vision of hope in the hard times. She has three adult daughters and three delightful grandsons. Reading, quilting, and tending her garden are among Sarah’s hobbies.

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  1. Such an encouraging and beautiful story.
    You have been blessed with a mighty gift of encouraging others through your words. What a blessing you are to me and so many more.

  2. So touching and also challenging. A great reminder to seek opportunities to be used by God wherever He places us. Thank you, my friend.

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