Learning from Mrs. McGhee

I found out that a friend of mine, Mrs. Ellen McGhee past away last week in Chattanooga, TN.  

In the late 90’s, my church was asked by the city if we could help a widow pay her rent.  She needed $100 or she was going to be evicted from her apartment.  The deacons paid her rent and our church gained an elderly, African-American lady as a new member of our community.

Folks in the church helped Mrs. McGhee find work cleaning at a large insurance company in town, including the office of a friend, now one of her fellow church members.  I always enjoyed the smile on her face as we talked a bit before or after the service.  But I was most touched by the gifts Mrs. McGhee gave me.

She would find me in the hall of the church and slip a card into my hand – a Christmas one in Dec, birthday ones in February and September for my kids.  In addition to a nice note, she would always include a few dollar bills.  At first, I felt guilty taking the money.  I am a white, middle class guy; I don’t need a few dollars from a poor, elderly widow.

But God used her generosity to teach me.  Yes – my life was very different from Mrs. McGhee.  But I am just as needy.  Different but needy.  She had been touched by grace and now that grace was flowing over to others.  Who am I to think that I’ve got my life together so don’t need anything from a lady like her?  I need to receive grace as well as give it.  Mrs. McGhee’s generosity broke my proud heart and showed me a little deeper insight into God’s grace.

God’s community is one that should give and receive grace. Thank you, Mrs. McGhee, for teaching me.  See you on the other side.

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Chris Hatch

Seeking to love God and neighbor