Jane McWhorter

Jane McWhorter’s last speech
Photo: Celine Sparks

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BNc)Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of three articles by Genary Hicks on Jane McWhorter’s final speech for a ladies day event at the Mastin Lake congregation on Nov. 3. Read the previous articles here and here.

The Exit

Time stood still as I listened to my sister, our sister, Mrs. Jane McWhorter, deliver her final Ladies’ Day address. On this day, she shared with us her struggle as a widow and the source of her comfort and hope in her lonely hours. God has kept her through it all and used her suffering to be a source of encouragement to other widows. She showed us, through her widowhood, the comfort that has resulted from making wonderful memories with her late husband Don and the value of good friends and a loving family.

She urged us to seek optimists as our companions because being around others with a bright perspective will rub off on us. Embers need to touch to keep a fire going. Our associations do affect our outlook and possibly our outcome. So it is important to surround ourselves with those who trust in God and live in full assurance of his faithfulness.

‘Adjust the sails’

As she approached her conclusion, she reminded us to “adjust the sails.” We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust the sails. When troubles, trials, and disappointments come, which we cannot change, we must then adjust our attitudes about them.

We must truly believe Romans 8:28, that ALL THINGS work together for our good. Butter, alone, doesn’t taste too good, neither does flour, alone, or eggs, or sugar alone, but if you mix them together and apply a little heat then you’ll have a cake. In life, God allows us to have good times and bad times, but they are always working together for our good.

Never underestimate the power of our attitude. Our character and our attitude are the things over which we have choice and control. It is up to us to chose to be happy. It is up to us to choose which thoughts to dwell on.

Weavers of our lives

As she concluded, she held up several pieces of colorful threads. “We are weavers of our own lives. So what color do you want your life to be?”

Naturally, most would like their lives to be vibrant colors, maybe reds and yellows and bright blues. However, God also gives us shades of grey and black, times of heartache and struggle, to be woven into our lives.

Many times, in our pursuit of happiness, we protest and ask God for only bright colors, for only good days. Yet, in his wisdom, he insists on giving us hardships, the dark threads, which sometimes seem too painful to bear.

But when we come to the end of our life’s journey, and we present our weaved tapestry to our Father, we will see that the moments of darkness woven into our lives create a beauty we could have never imagined.

God has a divine purpose for the bright days as well as the dim ones. Looking at our lives, right now, the darkness may seem overwhelming, but it is there to perfect our Christian character. It qualifies us to comfort those who will need comfort, after enduring what we have endured. And those sad times makes us yearn for something better, that holy city, our home, a house not made with hands.

Saying farewell

Tears filled her eyes, her voice began to stammer, as she knew now that she had done all that she could. She was saying farewell to 39 years of speaking at Ladies’ Day programs and retreats.

Even so, she reminded us, what looks to be the end of the road is but only a bend in the road. She showed a beautiful picture of a narrow path that lead through a lush green forest where the path becomes lost, and almost disappears into a foggy mist.  Yet upon further investigation we could see that the road had not ended, but only bended.

Although Mrs. McWhorter intends to continue writing and possibly speaking at one or two lectureships per year, she admitted that it has become too difficult, physically, to continue speaking at these types of engagements. I’m sure that, with memories flooding her mind as she looked across the audience to see faces she had known from her childhood, it was with bittersweet tears that she must say farewell to this labor of love.

Her prayer

Having encouraged us all to do our best, to focus on the truly important things in life, and to trust that God is working everything together for our good, sister McWhorter asked us to bow with her in prayer. Her prayer was most humbling as she, tearfully, called,

“Father, oh Father, you have been so good to me, so very good to me. I offer you now these 39 years of service in your kingdom. I pray that you are pleased.”

Her voice quivered with reverence, as though she was literally pouring herself out as an offering to the Lord. She gave thanks and asked God to bless every woman present and thanked him for being a faithful God.

There was hardly a dry eye as we lifted our head from prayer, and our sister, Mrs. Jane McWhorter, quietly took her seat.