I love to sew! It has been a part of my life since my early high school days. I have also had the privilege of teaching many girls how to sew. Boy oh boy, do I have stories from those days! From the aggravation of working with archaic sewing machines, to the emotional breakdowns of girls having to rip out seams just to re-do them again and again, to the same girl sewing her finger more than once with the sewing machine…I could go on and on. As the saying goes, “Those were the days!” Seriously, I cherish the memory of those days. Whenever I’m with any of those girls, you can be sure their days in my home economics classes will come up. During those classes, after they learned the basics of sewing and the logistics of using a sewing machine, they had to learn how to use a pattern. Patterns are very important and can be quite technical. There is a lot of measuring, math and adjusting involved to make the pattern just right. I would stress to the girls, “We don’t want our clothes to look ‘homemade’ but ‘custom-made.’” Like with anything else, there is a learning curve to understanding how to use a pattern in order to achieve the desired result. I am a firm believer that “with knowledge comes understanding.” Recently I have been reminded of the importance of patterns in our spiritual lives. No, not a sewing pattern, but a pattern of life.
I first met Susan Whatley in my sophomore year of college. She was an incoming freshman and joined the cheerleading squad of which I, too, was a member. We had great fun that year cheering for our team and enjoying fellowship as time would allow. Susan was from Texas. She was Texan through and through from her Texas drawl to her love of the Dallas Cowboys. I can still hear her signature greeting to all of her girl friends,”Hey, Girl!”
Susan, her husband David Pittman and my husband Morris Gleiser grew up together in the same church youth group, so all through these more than forty years of marriage, our lives have intertwined. David is a pastor in northern Virginia, and these last twenty years we have been holding revival meetings at their church. As a pastor’s wife, Susan started a weekly ladies Bible Study they called “Patterns.” I have had the privilege to share God’s Word many times with the ladies that come to “Patterns.” It has always been a precious time of hearts bonded together to hear and live God’s Word.
There’s something I haven’t told you about Susan. She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was twelve years old. As a result of this illness, Susan’s body suffered many maladies. It affected her eyesight, her heart, her kidneys and both of her legs had to be amputated. Yes, Susan’s body suffered but not her spirit. In all the years I knew Susan, she had a contagious joyful spirit. If her handicap had not been visible, it would never have been perceived. What an inspiration as well as a rebuke!
On April 18, 2017, Susan Pittman was ushered into the presence of her Savior. Her race on earth is over. She is whole. She is more alive than ever. She is singing with all the saints that have gone before her and worshiping the One she loved. But for those of us still running our race, she left us a pattern to follow of “adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10b). As girls, we love to adorn ourselves outwardly with pretty things. Susan loved that too; however, she didn’t just adorn herself physically, but she adorned herself spiritually. She lived her faith. How else can her grace-filled attitude in the midst of such trial and testing be explained? At her funeral, three ladies gave testimony to the impact Susan had in their lives. The first lady spoke of how Susan had shared the Gospel with her and she had accepted Christ as her Savior. The next lady shared how Susan had spoken the truth of God’s Word to her and had helped restore her broken marriage. The last lady spoke of Susan’s mentoring of her as a teenager and how it has impacted her life to this day. These testimonies were just representative of the countless lives Susan touched for the Kingdom of God.
Dear friend, as Christians we are in the process of being “custom-made.” This is called sanctification. The pattern (Christ) is set before us, but as we study Him we see how far short we fall of measuring up. Don’t be discouraged. Remember, “with knowledge comes understanding.” Keep studying God’s Word until its truth sinks deep into your soul. Keep desiring and striving to be like Christ, for He is the ultimate pattern. Ask the Spirit to transform you into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, ”But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Written by Lynn Gleiser. This article was published in the Fall 2017 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine. She and her husband Morris travel in evangelism, speaking in churches and camps across America. They have a passion for teens and have impacted hundreds of people through their faithful ministry.