The dear old hymn "Will there be any stars in my crown?" was the primary reason I decided, as a child, never to let go of Jesus. I heard it sung by my mother every day as she went about her heavy load of household chores.
She was born more than 100 years ago, a premature twin who was left to die, but though frail she clung to life. Not walking until she was four and contracting TB by the time she was 11 years old, she was sent to live with a relative in the dry Outback, far from her family. Her siblings grew up to climb to the top of their academic fields--travelling the world, dining with royalty--and their names are now inscribed in our great halls of learning. She was the family member no-one talked about.
She married my father hoping for acceptance and a better life, but this wasn't to be. She spent many lonely hours far out on a farm with her children during the hard years of the Depression. Often she was so sick she crawled out of bed to prepare food for us. No matter how dark the trials, her arms were always around us and we felt safe, loved and protected.
One day a man in a horse and cart found his way along those bush tracks and called at our farmhouse. Although she had very little money, she bought three of the books he was selling. And she began to read.
The war broke out and we moved into a town where she began attending all the different churches, comparing their teachings with her three precious books. In one church she was roped off as a goat and the members were the sheep. We travelled long hours by train to attend a convention where we were all belaboured with the evils of Christmas. "That's not God's church," I remember her remarking as we made that long, cold journey home.
Then one day she found a Signs of the Times in the letterbox. She read every word and out came her Bible and her three books. The next week there was another magazine and she studied again. The next week a gentleman knocked at the door and asked if she had enjoyed the Signs he had left. A few months later she was baptised and we began attending church.
My father was an atheist and he became violent. We were the "sundowners" and the "peanut eaters." Her strange religion alienated her still further from her brothers and sisters, who nodded sagely and attributed it to her lack of education. Through it all, we kept Sabbath faithfully. We were eight kilometres from town, and each week we set out to walk those hills to get to Sabbath school on time. And as we walked we sang about the stars in our crown.
The day she died was the happiest day of my life. Her pain was over, she had fought a good fight and I knew a crown was laid up for her. She hadn't travelled the world, but she would travel through space. She would dine with royalty for she was a child of the King. And her name, too, was inscribed--it's in the book of life. And when she receives her crown, if there is only one star shining there, I want it to be me.
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus when he comes back again. 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
Lyn Wood lives in Millicent, South Australia.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God