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Faith Focus: Advent | We see joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. –1 Peter 1:8 (ESV)

Susie B. Stell was the closest thing to a missionary I knew as a boy. In her 70s and a widow, she operated the second-hand clothing ministry and directed the second grade Sunday school department in our church. She even cast me as one of the shepherds for our Christmas pageant. Mrs. Stell made sure we all understood the Christmas story was about God’s love for us and his invitation to enter into Jesus’ story ourselves.

That winter my mother and I went with Mrs. Stell to take a meal to a family of five or six living in a one-room shack in the middle of a cold field of bare cotton stalks. Mrs. Stell assured them of God’s love and Jesus’ story.

She was never appointed by a “missionary sending agency”– besides the local church. She just believed the story of Jesus and his Great Commission and she followed him. Her obvious joy in life with God kept her going and spread to many of us.

Celebrity Stephen Colbert recently revealed he kept a note taped to his computer that read, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the existence of God.” Mrs. Stell was an infallible sign of joy. As you celebrate the story of Jesus this week, do something the way he did it – and see the joy.

Rick Willis serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Lampasas, Texas, with his wife, D’Anne.

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