Text: Isaiah 43:1-7
I first met Ms. Lily Rose DeVee over 20 years ago when I came to Raleigh to join the staff of this church. For a number of years she was, to me, the mysterious lady who would arrive fashionably late to worship wearing her big, beautiful hats, gorgeous dresses and fancy jewelry. I remember the first time she spoke to me after a worship service standing at the back door. I felt a bit like I was in the presence of both royalty and a soul sister. Over the years from time to time, we would speak to one another, exchange pleasantries like “How are you doing?” but we never really did sit down for a long “get to know you” conversation until several weeks ago. For most of the last 20 years, I simply admired Ms. Lily from a distance. She never knew it, because I never told her, but from watching her these past 20 years, I gained tremendous courage and strength to fully be the person God created me to be. Ms. Lily had an undeniable presence – a presence that emanated something holy and divine, a presence that emanated courage and strength, a presence that emanated honest struggle paired with authentic living. One could say that, for years, I was a secret admirer of Ms. Lily.