She was known in the community as “Aunt Mary”, and as a young pastor in the Appalachians, I met her in the early 1950’s. At that time she was elderly and feeble, but still maintained her own home. Her late husband was a Civil War veteran who was much older than Aunt Mary when they married. She was the only Civil War widow that I ever met. She was friendly and hospitable when I visited in her humble home. At that time her household consisted of two great-grandchildren, 10 & 12, and a nephew by marriage.
She was not attending church but was church friendly. She started coming on Sunday mornings and one Sunday came to the altar seeking the Lord. Unable to kneel she sat upon the Altar bench and prayed aloud; “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” God soon gave her assurance that her prayer was heard and she was happy in the Lord. She did not have many years left, but lived them for the Lord.
God is still merciful to the sinners who will humble themselves, confess and repent of their sins. The Pharisees’ complaint against Jesus was, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” I’m so glad He does! Otherwise He would have passed by me.