A great leader in The Salvation Army, Major Sharon Elaine Merry Owens, was recently Promoted to Glory. She was one of the most trustworthy people that I have ever encountered. The Territorial Headquarters’ Bulletin gave many of the details of Major Sharon’s life and I would add that she was quite simply “Jesus in His Sharon suit” to me.
It was years ago, but I can still see Major Sharon standing behind the pulpit at the Lake Worth, Florida corps, strumming her autoharp and singing softly, “Lord for my sake, teach me to take, one day at a time.” It was not only one of her favorite songs; it was a testimony of her trust in the Lord. As for me, that was a very troubling time in my life and I desperately needed something to believe and trust in. I was quickly sinking in the muck and mire of life while there appeared to be no bridge over the troubled waters. It was, in fact, Major Sharon’s faith and trust that became that bridge for me. After she led me to the Lord, she began to mentor me in my new Christian journey. With each misstep, she took the opportunity to teach me about genuine, relational trust.
More than anything, she taught me that genuine trust must be demonstrated. The struggles in Major Sharon’s life were no match for her genuine trust in God. I could readily see that she lived out, one day at a time, what she believed. She was a woman of integrity who walked righteously and spoke what was right (Isaiah 33:15). Her life and her words matched, regardless of the circumstances that came her way. She was more than her own person – she was God’s person and that was motivation enough to keep me engaged in my new relationship with God and with the people of God.
I also learned that relational trust requires dedication. The relationships in Major Sharon’s life reflected one of the purposes for which she had been created. She was dedicated to demonstrating that she had the best interest of others at heart – at all times. Because she was secure in her own relationship with God, she was able to develop those around her. That was magnetic enough to keep me encamped with her as I struggled to resolve my own relational issues with others and with God.
I thank God for the life of this great leader, mentor, friend and guide. She not only nurtured our relationship one day at a time, but I came to trust the Lord, whom I did not know…because I trusted her, who I grew to know. Her life (and I hope mine as well) will always be a testimony to Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.