Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Amen. And Amen.
I want to first thank Pastor Andy for allowing me to speak at this gathering. We are here to honor my wife, Suki, for her service to God and to New Life Church these past years.
Because I know this woman, a little, I can tell you that she is deeply moved tonight. She is a little embarrassed because Suki prefers to work without acknowledgement or praise. I suspect she is also feeling a bit un-worthy of all this attention. She would say “Why make a big deal for someone who was just doing their job?”
But there are good reasons for this gathering. Those who benefit have the obligation to celebrate acts of service done for them. There is also a need to honor the works of a “good and faithful servant.”
It is not easy to become worthy of that title. It costs more than you are compensated for. It pushes your limits and then resets them. It requires sacrifices you never thought would be asked of you. There are days where stress and frustration seem to be all consuming and days where it seems that exhaustion is all there is to the world.
Serving God, or a Church or a community is not easy. It takes a toll on your family and your life. When you go “all in”, with service, it changes everything about you and around you. It demands your best and makes you better.
Service is not easy. Because the costs are high, those who are willing to serve are few. But service is desperately needed. There are gaps between needs and fulfillment – we need more bridge builders. There are hurting and desperate hearts – we need more care givers. There are lost and lonely people – we need more mentors and teachers. There are battered and broken bodies – we need more healers. There are papers to fold, tables to clear, dishes to wash – we need more workers
James 2 says, 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Faith and service are verbs spoken by many, performed by some and done well by few. So it is fitting to acknowledge when it is done with success.
There is a speech from Owen Cooper I revisit often called “If I had my life to live over”. In that speech he says the following.
I would love more. I would especially love others more. I would let this love express itself in a concern for my neighbors, my friends, and with all whom I came in contact.
I would try to let love permeate me, overcome me, overwhelm me, and direct me. I would love the unlovely, the unwanted, the unknown, and the unloved.
I would give more. I would learn early in life the joy of giving, the pleasure of sharing, and the happiness of helping. I would learn to give more than money. I would give some of life's treasured possessions, such as time, thoughts and kind words.
If I had my life to live over I would be much more unconventional; because where society overlooks people, I would socialize with them; Where custom acknowledges peers at best with whom to have fellowship, I would want some non-peer friends; Where tradition stratifies people because of economics, education, race or religion, I would want to fellowship with friends in all strata.
I would choose to go where the crowd doesn't go. Where the road is not paved, where the weather is bitter, where friends are few, where the need is great and where God is most likely to be found.
I think we can all see a lot of Suki in that testimony.
We gather here today to honor the example of a single person, Suki Wilmot. I know this makes her un-comfortable but one of the other costs of being an example to others is from time to time you have to stand up and let people see you.
Well Suki. This is your night.
We also recognize that no one succeeds in isolation. Every outlier’s achievements are the result of community and opportunity. The members of New Life Church have provided support and opportunity to Suki and I know she is grateful to you all.
The Senior Pastor of Antioch Bible Church, Dr. Ken Hutchinson, once said to a group of men “I am your example of what a man of God looks like.” He took that challenge upon himself with full understanding that if he failed to live up to that standard he would not only fail us men but God. Suki has not, and perhaps never will, make a claim like that. But she is a servant of God and we could all benefit by learning from her example.
In the years I was running from God, she was the only godly influence in our home. When a man will not lead his family God has no problem with anointing his wife. God’s will is not stopped by the proud heart of a man.
Suki’s example was one of the influences which transformed my heart and then my life with God. Being transformed is not always a lot of fun. But I can honestly say that the good days far outweigh the dark ones.
Living with me is not easy. It may shock some of you to know I have a few flaws and faults in my character. Don’t tell anyone but Suki is not perfect either. She and I look at the world in different ways – sometimes in very different ways. For example.
About seven years ago I noticed that there was a large cooking pot on top of the clothes washer. In the pot was a large rock filling the pot and providing a considerable amount of weight.
I began to analyze the purpose for this addition to the laundry room but in the end I had to holler to my wife, “Yo! What’s up with the rock in the pot?” I was not prepared for the answer.
Here is “Laundry 101” for men. In order for a washing machine to keep running the lid needs to be closed. This is so the little pin under the lid will force the “Lid Closed” sensor down. This tells the machine that all is well. It turns out that a few months prior to this our washer started acting up. And just closing the lid was no longer enough to force the sensor down.
So for a while Suki would listen to the machine as it progressed to the “Wash” stage rush in and slam her hand on the lid. If she missed the timing on this then all of the water would drain without ever entering the “Wash” stage and the process would have to be repeated.
Then things got worse. Increasing amounts of force was required to nudge the machine along. At some point only continued downward pressure would ensure a complete wash cycle. At first her answer to this was the soap box. It was pretty heavy and was in the area.
Problem solved but with each new cycle the box of soap got a little lighter. When the box became too light to do the job she would toss the bottle of bleach on top along with the soap. This was only partially successful because the vibration of the machine caused the bleach to slip off the machine.
Enter the Rock in a Pot. Placed on the lid, the pot was a constant source of weight sufficient to solve all of my wife’s issues with the machine. My face must have revealed some of the inner fear I had about my wife’s problem solving ability because the conversation turned defensive in a hurry. I made a quick retreat from the laundry room and sought some therapy from a manly application of football.
When my testosterone returned I crept back into the room armed with a screw driver and duct tape. I examined the situation for a few minutes and discovered a loose retaining pin under the lip of the machine. I snapped it back into position; no tools needed, not even the tape, and gave the machine a test. I loaded the machine closed the lid and the little machine worked like a champ with no pounding, slapping or rocks in pots needed.
I love this story because it showcases the determination of Suki to not let little things like a wonky machine stop her from getting things done. When you need clothes washed, and your husband won’t fix the machine – get a rock and move on. When you need to send 20 people to Mexico or the Philippines on mission or put an event together or make sure worship service is prepared, you need people who can get things done.
You need people who find ways to succeed not excuses to fail. You need people who see what needs to get done and take action not wait around for direction. I think we can all say with conviction that Suki is a woman who can get things done. She does not do it all, but she does much and for that we say thank you.
New Life Church will always be a part of Suki’s life. The connections she has made with people are not affected by a change in jobs. The bonds of affection and love are stronger than who signs a pay check. But this season for Suki’s service at New Life Church is ending.
As she goes on to offer her gifts to the children at Head Start we wish her the best of all good things. She is exchanging one mountain for another. The work ahead for her is filled with challenge and uncertainty. There will be new things for her to learn, relationships to build and goals to reach. The adjustment will not be easy but I have full confidence in Suki to do well.
Robert Kennedy, speaking to the nation of South Africa, in 1966 said “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, Or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
I cannot think of anyone I would trust more to teach children or to send hope into their lives than my wife. Who but God can tell where those ripples of hope will reach but one thing for sure, no doubt about that, Suki will be sending ripples into the world
I ask for you all to continue to pray for her and for her family. I am sure she will pray for you often. I want to thank you all again for allowing me the floor to sing my wife’s praises.
God is good -- “!! All the time !!”
All the time -- “!! God is good !!“