This week, I have a guest post from a dear friend. I spent ten days in this wonderful woman’s house in the UK, surrounded by peace, intelligent and spiritual conversation, and persistent hospitality. She is the real deal of wanting to make Christ her center. I love it when someone’s story gets so entwined with our own–like my own fascination with Betty Greene’s flying story that I wrote about earlier here. Here is Andrea’s contribution to #Nevertheless. She Persisted. Enjoy!
Many Beautiful Things
I have fallen madly in love with a biographical film about the life of Lilias Trotter, Many Beautiful Things. Trotter’s story has captivated me like not many stories have. Without the persistence of Miriam Rockness and a handful of other generous souls, this story could have been lost forever. I feel honored and humbled that somehow, I have become but a tiny thread woven into this beautiful tapestry of tales.
Lilias Trotter lived in late 1800’s England. She was a gentle, bold, creative, forward-thinking, courageous and faith-filled woman. Lilias was skilled in her art and dedicated to serving mankind. She was most persistent in her faithful walk with Christ, being willing to go wherever He led. This would include the dark streets of England and, later, the desolate mission field of North Africa. Lilias, by her own right, was a woman who persisted in following her humble path faithfully to the very end.
Each time I watched the film, a different story begged to be told—the story of the woman behind the story. Miriam Rockness seemed to be a woman who remained faithful and persistent along her own humble path to the telling of Lilias’ story.
Putting pen to my thoughts, I was grateful to have the opportunity to talk with Miriam by phone. As we visited, I noticed similar qualities in her to those I had noticed in Lilias from the film. Miriam’s gentleness and persevering passion forged its way effortlessly through the air waves to my soul.
The Story behind the Story
Miriam explained that the layers of Lilias Trotter’s story were peeled back over the span of 3 decades. Careful not to draw accolades, she wanted to point out that, throughout her research, she had all the typical tasks that fill the days of most wives and moms. She explained how she stole moments as she could to read, journal and correspond. It’s also important to note that much of her research was done prior to the internet age. Imagine international phone calls and transatlantic snail mail and you can gather how this project was harried but certainly not hurried. Her passion has clearly stood the test of time as she recounted to me a treasure trove of stories.
“It’s so hard for me to separate the Lilias story from my own walk of faith.”
Miriam first heard of Lilias Trotter from three sisters who visited the church her husband pastored. A connection was made and a few months later Miriam received a package from them containing a cameo biography of Lilias Trotter. It was a beautifully designed leaflet tied up with a satin ribbon. This little devotional inspired Helen H. Lemmel to write the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. “I was just smitten,” said Miriam.
With her interest piqued, Miriam wrote back. The sisters would send more over the next several months and would eventually entrust the entirety of their collection to her.
“I felt like Lilias was confirming in my heart what really matters. She never saw the church visible. It (her life) wasn’t sensational but all of the writing and insights that helped her deal with the ups and downs of life and ministry and people were feeding richly into my life.”
Once the last book from the sisters came, Miriam realized that pieces of Lilias’ story were missing. The search for answers to her questions took her down the path of an untold story. Along the way, God provided people, ideas, leads and resources in miraculous ways that would put feet to her pursuit.
Persistence in the Telling
I asked Miriam if she ever thought of quitting, if she was ever confronted with opposition. She said, “Oh, yes!” Noting that so many in her life, namely her husband and children, were most supportive, there were a few who believed the quest to be that of an endless black hole. She faced roadblocks at times that seemed impassable. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Over the span of these 3 decades, she would follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and remain faithful to do what He asked – even if the doing looked more like waiting. Through physical hardships, emotional turmoil, geographic boundaries, time restraints, monetary challenges and more, Miriam Rockness persisted in discovering and telling the beautiful story of Lilias Trotter.
Miriam was quick to give God all of the credit throughout this entire journey, but to be sure, God needed a willing, faithful and persistent vessel. He chose very well.
“You can never tell to what untold glories a little humble path may lead if you follow far enough.” ~Lilias Trotter
Miriam Rockness faithfully followed the humble path to Lilias Trotter’s story… far enough. Her persistence paid off. And oh, the glories she has told!
What path do you need to follow just a little bit farther? I wonder what stories and glories await you just around the bend.
A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Miriam Huffman Rockness
Lilias Trotter’s Sketchbooks and Journals
Many Beautiful Things (film)
Many Beautiful Things (soundtrack by Sleeping At Last)
Andrea Stunz is a wife, mom, mother-in-law, and grandmother. She is a world traveler from Texas and finds hope in a beautiful sunrise and a good cup of coffee. A stumbling pilgrim who is ever so grateful for grace, Andrea longs to encourage others in their stories by sharing a part of hers because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing.” Find more of her writings at AndreaStunz.com.