I was Ida Taylor’s pastor for a few years. She was not shy about what she liked and didn’t like. She let me know there were some things about me she liked and there were a few things I did or said she was pretty sure she didn’t like. She was real direct about what she thought about things. She wouldn’t talk behind your back. If she had a problem, she let you know to your face. If you’re going to disagree, I guess that’s the way to do it. She even rattled my cage publicly once but I’ll save that story for another day.
Calling on Ida Taylor one day she asked me if I would like something to drink. She said: “We have lemonade, iced tea, apple juice or grape juice. What would you like?” “Oh, I would love a glass of grape juice.” I quickly answered.
She brought me a tall cold glass of grape juice and we visited for a while. I told her I had loved grape juice since I was a little boy. It was a treat that we would sometimes have when we visited my grandparents. As soon as I emptied my glass Ida refilled it.
The next time I dropped by to visit Ida’s daughter was visiting and she put a glass of grape juice in my hand before I sat down.
I visited Ida often that year because she was diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes I visited her at home other times I prayed with her before tests or treatments in the hospital. Once we even moved the whole church to her front lawn because she was sick from treatments and missed going to Sunday School. One cold morning in late October I stood beside her grave and preached her funeral. I made the gospel as clear as I knew how to do it. She had made me promise not to candy things up but to give it to them strait. Tell them about heaven and hell and how Jesus died for sinners. I did. The gray sky was spitting snow when I drove away.
A few weeks after her death I was visiting with her husband Harold. When I sat down in my usual chair Ida’s daughter put a glass of grape juice down on the table beside me. “Thank you,” I said. How did you know I liked grape juice? “Oh, are you kidding,” she said. “My mother made it very clear to all of us that we were to see to it that there would always be a full bottle of grape juice in the refrigerator in case you stopped by for a visit. We heard it from her if we forgot.”
Small gestures of thoughtfulness like that are the stuff of life and love. I never drink a glass of grape juice anymore without thinking about Ida Taylor.
Jesus said, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matthew 10:41 NKJV)
(From Stonebridge Newsletter – Number 60)