I was born in 1938, just before the start of World War II. I’ve been on this earth for over eight decades, and, believe me, I have seen a lot.
King Solomon knew what he was talking about when he shared his wisdom for life. Change is never-ending, and everything has its season (Ecclesiastes 3:1–8). And sometimes, God assigns our lives the most unexpected purpose and meaning during the most challenging seasons.
I have experienced joy, sorrow, suffering, and contentment, sometimes all at once. Circumstances have fluctuated for me over the years, but there’s one thing I’ve always known: God’s presence will be with me no matter what comes my way.
I had loving parents and a normal childhood, but we were not Christians. My grandmother sang beautiful hymns and taught us to pray before meals, but I didn’t learn anything that helped me grasp the importance of a relationship with Jesus.
My first husband and I spent 45 years together and raised five beautiful children. Frank was the first to ask the Lord into his heart. A friend had been telling him about Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was doing a work in his heart, preparing him to lead our family in the Christian faith.
Two weeks later, Frank took me to see King of Kings, a movie about the life of Jesus Christ. I was less than enthusiastic and sat outside during most of the movie, smoking cigarettes. I wandered back inside just in time to see the crucifixion of Jesus. I watched Him being nailed to the cross, and something inside my 23-year-old heart broke wide open and gave way to Jesus. I cried and asked for forgiveness of my sins, giving Him total reign over my life.
That night the Holy Spirit ignited a fire inside me to win souls. I wanted to go door to door, telling everyone about the love and grace of Christ. My husband and I served together in church and purposed to learn the Word of God and raise our children in a home that honored Him (Deuteronomy 6:6–7). Our marriage was not without challenges, but with God’s guidance, we weathered every storm together until Frank went home to be with the Lord in 2000.
The Lord was gracious not to leave me alone for too long. My path soon crossed that of a wonderful man of God. Lester was a retired pastor who loved the Lord and my enthusiasm to serve others and spread the Gospel. We made a great team for Jesus until he became sick. I was privileged to care for him until he lost his battle with Alzheimer’s. I was a widow again, after just sixteen short years.
With the death of my second husband, a heavy loneliness settled over my life. I had never been so completely alone as I was at that point. I had no idea how to survive on my own. I’d been married so young, and all I knew was how to be a wife and a mom. By now, I was a great-great-grandmother and had certainly lived a full life.
Fear took root. I did not want to sit and become useless to God or anyone else. “Father,” I prayed, “I still have life left in me. Please don’t put me on a shelf. I want to be used by You. Where do You want me?”
The enemy laughed in my ear. “Now, what could God possibly do with someone your age?”
I had no problem reminding Satan that he was a liar and a loser. God still had an assignment for me. I just didn’t know what it was yet.
I cried out to my Good Shepherd a lot during that dark valley season. He was the only One who could lead me out (Psalm 23), so I clung to Him for help.
Determined not to slip into the pit of despair and depression, I kept knocking and asking and seeking for God to tell me what to do next (Matthew 7:7). I didn’t know how, but I knew He would answer my prayers.
God reminded me that Moses was in his 80s too, but He still called him to lead the Israelites out of captivity. And when Moses expressed his doubts, God sent him on his way, promising that He’d be there for every step. In fact, God told Moses that he already had everything in his hand that he needed to do the job God had for him. (See Exodus 4.)
So I decided that I would trust too, that I would have what I needed to answer God’s call when it came. And then it hit me—there were people all around who could use encouragement, a kind note, a visit, a hug, or a prayer partner. My age would be no barrier to meeting those needs.
From then on, I started using whatever I had in my hand to serve God and others.
The loneliness didn’t go away completely, but focusing on others more than on myself brought renewed joy into my heart.
I was leaving Bible study one day when I noticed a man sitting alone outside the church. He looked sad, but when I approached him, his face lit up with a smile. I introduced myself, and he told me his name was Roy and that he was new to our church family.
I didn’t know what was troubling him or how I could help, but I knew God wanted me to show him kindness.
Just use what’s in your hand, Patricia, I reminded myself. I went home that afternoon and wrote him a note of encouragement, hoping to cheer up my new friend.
The next time I saw Roy, I gave him the card. His face brightened as if I had handed him a million dollars. My heart was overjoyed to see how such a simple gesture could bless someone.
I was intrigued by Roy’s infectious smile. Whatever his troubles, this was a man who was on fire for Jesus. When he invited me for dinner one evening, I agreed, happy to learn more about him. He was easy to talk to, and over the course of the evening, we shared stories about our lives. I learned that Roy was in his 70s and had endured a lifetime of struggles, including spending over three decades in prison!
I wondered how on earth someone who had endured that kind of trial could be so content.
Roy shared with me how God had brought purpose to his suffering by giving him a passion for helping others through writing. I was inspired and moved with compassion. I felt convicted for the many times I had lamented to the Lord about circumstances that weren’t comfortable in my life.
We talked for hours, and when the evening ended, we both felt like we had known each other for a lifetime. It was nice to have a friend, and I was grateful that the Lord had crossed our paths.
It came as quite a shock when Roy asked me to marry him. I had to go away for three weeks to seek direction from the Lord. The idea of Roy and me getting married would surely raise some eyebrows. I particularly worried that it might upset my children.
But no matter what doubts and worries I presented to God, I received not even a hint that it would displease Him.
In fact, God kept bringing me back to a place of comfort in His Word, a place that had always been my lifeline. Proverbs 3:5–6 reassured me: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight” (NIV).
I returned home from my trip convinced that marrying Roy would be God’s will. I knew in my heart that by doing so, I would be answering the call from God on my life that I had so desperately needed. The answer to my prayers had come in such an unexpected and unpredictable way that only God could get the glory for it.
I said yes to God and then to Roy, and we were married on August 27, 2022. All my children were in attendance and embraced Roy into our family during the ceremony. I will treasure the memories of that day for the rest of my years.
And that is how God called Roy and me into the ministry of marriage. God had a purpose for both of us. We were to be obedient and trust Him with the details. Today, He uses Roy to bring meaning and companionship to my life, and Roy says that God brought me into his life to be the best friend he has ever had. We challenge each other to grow in our relationship with the Lord, which only serves to strengthen our bond. We truly keep each other sharp and make each other better (Proverbs 27:17).
We are now ministry partners, in our home and to each other. We use whatever is in our hands as a team to point others to Jesus.
Roy continues to use his writing to help others learn about the Savior, and I encourage whoever God puts in front of me when I see the need. Between the two of us, we have more hands than we did alone, so we can get a lot more done.
God is always faithful. If you are going through a difficult season, don’t lose heart. Remember that God has a purpose for you in every season. Pray and ask Him to give you direction. Then, while you are waiting for your answer, start using whatever is in your hand to serve God and others.
You might not think you have anything much to offer, but let God decide how He’ll use your obedience. You might just be walking along and end up crossing paths with your destiny.
God did it for Roy and me, and He can do it for you too.
Patricia Borges and her husband, Roy, love to share the hope of Jesus every chance they get and with anyone who will listen. Grateful for finding love in this season of life, they plan to live out the rest of their lives loving and serving others.