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Mary’s Testimony

by Buford Smith

Reflective Thoughts About a Life Well Lived

(Notes from Long Ago)


As I followed Celeste, my mind remembered that this wasn’t just another hospital room. It was the room I had    occupied about a year ago. And Mary wasn’t just another patient. She had helped care for me and now she occupied the room.

It was a hospital room, yet not  the usual. We entered a tunnel of flowers and planters, the walls hung with cards and pictures drawn by grandchildren and brought in with love,  and high and lifted up on the right wall a banner shouted out  the theme: “..For I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Ex: 15:26.

The room offered a comfortable view of the outside with plenty of light, but the special view I noticed was of heaven and Mary waiting with longing heart to go  home. At the end of the flower tunnel lay a pretty little lady,    the white sheet tucked under her chin, a slight gray to her  hair, a wide smile on her face and a Scripture on her  lips.

Some people “get religion” when they get bad sick, and they grasp for some verse from their childhood memories, something to ease their conscience, something to give hope, something to tell God that they had planned to “get right” with Him, but they have no idea where to  look.

Not so with Mary. Mary didn’t say, “I think God loves  you.” She quoted book, chapter and verse from the Bible and explained it to me with such confidence and joy that I realized that she knew Him of whom she         spoke. When she walked into my room I was glad because I knew she cared for me. I would get excellent care and enjoy a few minutes of heavenly conversation with my Christian  sister.

Now, the memories of a year ago fill my head and I remembered why Mary was special. She loves the Lord and it    shows. Mary has a reputation. She talks her faith  to everyone. She tells doctors, nurses, patients and visitors that she prays for them. Her desire is for others to share the joy of  faith in Jesus and to live with the assurance of God’s eternity.

It has been a few days since Mary’s  serious surgery. The pain has eased some. The medication helps. She chuckles now as she recounts her attempts at dieting when she and Celeste lunched together and she fretted about a lack of weight loss.

Losing weight isn’t the important topic now. We dream together of eternity, of coming into the presence of God and we have different Bible people that encourage us in  our anticipation of the eternal. I remember Job’s difficult time: The frustration, the hurt, and the ending when God rewarded him for his strong, clinging faith.

Members of Mary’s church came by. After a few more minutes I remembered that Mary was not well, even though she seemed to enjoy talking with Celeste and me, and I should not over-stay my visit. I asked to pray with her. She smiled and said “Certainly.”

We prayed together. I had a difficult time. Not because of faith, but because of pain. I believe God. I believe He knows all about us: Everything we do and say and think, and all that happens to us. So, He knows about Mary, and I wonder why. Why allow Mary to suffer? Her faith is known and solid. Her potential is great. Her family needs her. Her friends need her witness. How can her suffering be the best  thing?

And yet God. God, our creator, knows our life plan. In fact, He put it into play and directs throughout all of      life. The difficulty is not with God. It is with me. I can’t see very far ahead in the plan of God. I don’t know what he has in mind for Mary, but I know that her illness has caused many co-workers, doctors, nurses, and other aids to think about eternity, and to see in her, a life of faith with assurance.

What a spot! What an opportunity! A hospital room littered with flowers and cards and a smiling patient who witnesses to the love of her Redeemer! Maybe I should accept   the obvious. God knows where Mary will be most effective. She has had years of preparing for this role. Years of telling about her faith in Jesus;  years of praying for others who hurt; years of smiling and saying that the love of God overcomes all  difficulties.

And now.   Now she practices what she has preached through the years: God is love. God is comfort. God is assurance in a time of pain and need  and fear. God is real. His promises are true.

God says He will use those who are nothing to shame those who are. I think of the young Israelite slave girl who told her master Naaman, that the prophet of God in Israel could cure his leprosy.

God will use Mary, a humble servant girl, to open the eyes  of doctors who can cure the body but not the soul. I didn’t have to ask. I know that Mary rejoices to be counted worthy to suffer for  His name. Her faith smiles as you walk into that special room at Union       Hospital.

Mary, thanks for the lift to my spirits and the joy to my soul.             We shall overcome, because He promised!

Today, May, 21, 1995

Mary. Thank you for your faithful witness. Thank you for clinging to Jesus. Thank you for living your faith. Thank you for lifting your eyes above and through the color line and seeing into the heart. Thank you for being “color blind.”

And thank you for letting me share in your      witness.


After 49 years and 10 months of full-time ministry, Buford Smith retired from Shiloh Church of Christ in 2011. Since then he preaches for various churches when their minister is away.

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33