Pastor Green and I drove out the same dirt driveway one day after school. We took a right hand turn and headed up the street. I was wondering who Mrs. Inez Milford was. I wasn’t even sure I had her first name correct. Inez?? We drove no more than a quarter mile when we came to the T intersection. The houses in the area were nice brick houses. They weren’t old but they weren’t really new either. As we pulled up to the intersection, I noticed to my right a house that was larger than the rest. It looked like it had been the only house left over after Noah’s flood. It looked ancient. If it had any paint on it I don’t remember. It was obvious this house hadn’t had any TLC in many, many years.
I hoped it wasn’t the house we were going to. I quickly turned my head hoping we’d pass it or that the house had been a mirage. But, we turned the corner and stopped the car in front of the house. It was the house.
We walked up to the porch. The porch extended the front of the house. I can imagine that in earlier days (long before there were other houses nearby) it would have been very inviting to sit on the porch and enjoy the view.
We knocked on the door. A young man (teenager) opened the door. I believe it was her grandson. He invited us in. The inner entrance was dim and the rest of the house didn’t appear to be much brighter. We slowly made our way into the living room. I wasn’t hopeful …
And there she was …
This little old woman with oxygen in her nostrils sitting on a couch that had been in the family for at least three generations. I was transfixed. My feet wouldn’t move. I was planted in one place. Finally I took a seat in the rocking chair that was near me.
I looked around trying to take in the surroundings. Nothing was new. It was OLD. The windows were the old kind that look sort of wavy as you gaze through them. There were no storm windows or screens. The items in the room weren’t anything that caught my attention as note worthy. No pictures of any Civil Wall soldiers on the walls. No photos of dead family members in an open coffin on the mantle. Not much of anything of “real” value that I could identify.
As I sat there taking it all in, I finally heard Pastor Green’s warm soothing voice talking to her. I came back to reality and noticed she had a Bible with her. It was one of those giant print King James Bibles that have the flimsy covers. It wasn’t even a study Bible. It wasn’t even one of the newer, more accurate, closer to the original Greek Bibles! How can anybody know anything about God and His word without at least a study bible? Plus, she hadn’t been to Bible school either. Maybe she didn’t even make it through school. Can she even read it?
I know … I could help her. I should tell her about study Bibles. I could maybe do some sort of short Bible study with her in the future. After all I’ve been to Bible school, had some Greek and even have some Bible commentaries. Why, I even preach at church some. Plus, look at this nice suit I’m wearing. I could really help this poor ole’ illiterate oxygen dependent woman dig into some of the the more profound things in the Scriptures. I’m her man.
It was about then that it happened. As she began to open her mouth, out came a depth of personal relationship with God that I knew nothing about. It was as if, when she spoke, the Spirit of God flooded the room. All of a sudden I knew nothing. I was the one in need of sitting at her feet and learning what it meant to walk with God. This woman walked with God in a way that shocked me. How can anyone in such dire circumstances (without a study Bible even) have such a joy in the Lord? I mean, surely she has something she wants to complain about. Somebody she’s mad at. Anything. Something! Help me feel better about myself, please!! I need some of that oxygen!!!
I don’t remember much of anything after that. It’s weird. I don’t remember a thing until we walked off the porch and made our way to the car. I wish I could remember what Pastor and I talked about. There is one thing I do remember after all these years though … the serenity that seemed to encompass her.
You see, I learned that day you don’t need Bible school, study Bibles, commentaries or even a nice couch in order to know God like she did. You just need a heart that is willing to draw nigh unto God and to know that He will drawn nigh unto you. We need some more giants of the faith like Mrs. Inez Milford. We’re so smart we’re dumb. It’s about relationship with God , not just knowledge about God. We’ve lost the childlike faith that comes to God and His word knowing that He can and will manifest Himself to us …
It had been sometime since I went by that corner after she had passed. I don’t remember why it had been so long. But when I got to the corner where the house should have been … it was gone. You couldn’t tell that anything had ever been there. No sign that any life had ever been lived on that single plot of land. A whole lifetime just sort of vanished from off the face of the earth. Nobody would ever know that this little old godly woman had lived a whole life there.
I purposed that I would never forget her. And to this day I’m still striving to become like her. I want her simple, childlike faith that knows God is real, that His Word is true and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It really is just that simple.
In memory of Mrs. Inez Milford.
May she now live on with you.