Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Legacy of One Minister's Wife

A local minister's wife died unexpectedly this past weekend.

As I read of her passing, my heart broke and rejoiced in the same beat.

Her death won't be reported in the local paper outside of the obituary page, yet her life is being heralded all over Facebook.

Susan was my oldest daughter's 3rd grade teacher. But I met her a long time before Riley turned 8.

She was the wife of the Minister of Education at FBC Clarksville when we first met. She was plugged in as a leader in the student ministry, teaching Sunday school and chaperoning whatever youth trip was on the calendar.

Susan and Steve's only daughter was -and continues to be- a credit to them both. Even though Jennifer was raised in the preverbal "fish bowl" of the church, she grew under their guidance in grace and truth. By God's grace she broke the mold of the stereotypical "preacher's kid" in all the best ways.

The Griffiths followed God's call to serve a church in a neighboring county. Susan was all in at their new ministry position, again faithfully working with and discipling teens and young adults at her husband's side. Yet she still didn't feel released from her teaching job in the local public school system here in Clarksville. That was a ministry of hers too.

Whether Susan was openly teaching God's word within the halls of a church building or faithfully loving the students, faculty and staff of her elementary school she did it all unapologetically with Christ's grace.

Susan was quick to give God all the glory for growing her faith and allowing her to live her life the way Jesus intended, abundantly. You see, Susan, somewhere in the middle of parenting and, eventually grand-parenting, she never lost her sense of humor or zeal for trying something new.

All this was not is spite of the obstacles God allowed in her life, but was done in and through them.

In writing this, I would do her testimony a disservice if I failed to tell you how she allowed God to carry her through more than one, years' long bought with cancer. Yet, I am sure she would tell you her biggest trial, the circumstances that have kept her clinging to the hope of the cross, was the sudden passing of her beloved Steve.

When he died suddenly one average Wednesday night after leading his regular Bible study, she lived  her faith transparently, openly sharing her loneliness yet praising His faithfulness each day of the nearly 5 years that creeped by since then.

Susan continued to live and to love, embracing her students, her friends, and her family. A beautiful granddaughter was welcomed and adored. Her grandson continue to grow and to be delighted in. Vacations were taken, parties were held, holidays were celebrated all through her identity as God's beloved child.

We all hurt for Jennifer, her husband, and their two littles, who will probably only remember their adoring grandmother through the memories of others. We all long for one more of her hugs. We all wish we could hear her infectious laugh once more.

Every student that sat in her classroom, every teenager who confided in her heart, and countless others who were blessed to know her at any level, rejoiced that this weekend when she was reunited with Steve, completely healed of her cancer and finally with her Savior.

Yes, Susan was an excellent wife of a minster. She was a talented school teacher. She was a loyal, fierce friend. She was a mother, mother-in-love, and a grandmother. Yet, I don't think Susan would have defined herself by any of these hats she wore.

She was -and now, more than ever, still is- God's.

And there remains a countless number of us that will be forever changed and touched by her legacy.

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