Since the Rev. Leslie Doyle’s passing a little over a year ago, a thought has persistently presented itself in my heart and mind. I’m sure I can’t say, accurately, exactly what floods over me about Leslie; but I think it’s time to try to set it down bluntly.
So here goes–
Leslie was so ordinary! She was fully human, fallible, totally lovable, bright, sometimes annoying, and often an evident work in progress.
I believe that this is where the heart of her ministry was most powerfully manifest.
I believe that what empowered Leslie was her obedience to the Holy Spirit. It was her gracious, matter-of-course yielding to the Spirit that compelled those around her to pause, take in her gifts, and tug their own sandals on to hit the dusty “ministry path” themselves.
Leslie was no different from the rest of us, except, as her mother emphasized when we spoke the day of Leslie’s arrival in Heaven, that she always embraced the opportunity to work hard for things worth having or doing.
That was her secret. She was not a genius, a saint, or a prodigy… tho people sometimes felt that she was, in their own lack of self-appreciation. She just buckled down and did things fully.
When she began to perceive a Call to ordained ministry, why, of course, she just got to work! It was the reasonable thing to do, and Leslie was thoroughly reasonable.
So there was this incredible witness to what she was experiencing, because that was reasonable. And because she was just an ordinary human being, it seemed to those around her as if they could probably (reasonably) answer the Calls they too were hearing.
People so desperately need to see the Face of Jesus. Until we get to see Him face to face, though, we have to look for Him in each others’ faces. We often look for it right above that modest white collar with which we tag our ordained people. And we will grant them a long and intense honeymoon period, when anything and everything they do looks, to us, like it MUST be Jesus Himself. (That’s when we call them geniuses, saints, or prodigies.)
And the “collared ones,” in possession of a deeper wisdom that comes in the formation process, agree that it is HIM, not themselves, who is the source of the perfection we so long to have near us.
The humility of allowing others to see Jesus– not ourselves– is an ordinary humility to which we all can aspire. Leslie did, and it was with her to the end.
I want to follow that. When I see her again someday, she’ll laugh, I think, and give me a quick hug as we laugh together over how much I needed to see Jesus “back then” and how for awhile, when I looked back at times with her, that’s who I saw.
I hope we will also enjoy looking back together over all the people who saw Jesus when they saw me. Good Lord, let it be so!