Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jer. 17:7-8 TNIV)
Irene Jersak is not very famous on earth. For seventy years, she has lived faithfully without great fanfare; I don't recall any special worldly honours being bestowed on her. Her greatest battles and victories have been fought in the prayer closet and on her knees. Her confidence has not been in any human strength (hers or others) but in the firm belief that God answers prayer. This confidence has been her gift to our extended family. So while she remains unknown to those we deem 'important,' I'm very aware of her fame in heaven (as a beloved daughter) and in hell (as a fearsome enemy).
Mom is sometimes seen as a worrier. But it would be much more truthful to say that she is confronted with many worries and takes them all boldly before the throne of grace in intercessory prayer. I've watched her make the journey from wringing-hands-worrier to praying-hands-warrior all of my life. I listened, from the time I was a toddler, to her pray daily for her parents, every one of her siblings and all of their children by name. Of course, in the Ditchfield family, with so many fellows named James, this can be very rhythmic and humourous: "James, Big Jim, Little Jim, Jimbo and Jimmy."
This has been no less true in times of great crisis. Some of my strongest memories of Mom were when she would face life and death situations with the sudden, stubborn resolve that prayer would make the difference. There was the time at camp when a baby drank a fatal dose of something under the sink. There was the time when my brother was hospitalized in a life-threatening car accident. The time she prayed at the death-bed of her father. The time when she faced her own battle with cancer. And on and on, without fail, for all these decades. In those moments when others would lapse into panic or fatalism, I watched the Spirit of God come on her and caught a glimpse of the character of Jesus when he 'set his face toward Jerusalem.' She had heaven's ear.
Mom, you have given me many things, but I say this with tears of thanks. My confidence in Christ came from you. I love you,