Our church recently announced a program where older women will be given an intentional opportunity to mingle with younger women. I was stirred in my spirit to pursue that. I also was reminded almost instantly of Matilda Kipfer. I know! Not a name you are likely to forget! Matilda Kipfer influenced my life in many ways. I heard her as a speaker at a Cincinnati Women’s Aglow meeting years ago, probably 1984?
She always called herself an ordinary woman. She taught us ways to pray constantly. “When you wash the China, pray for China. When you vacuum the carpet pray asking the Glory of God to spread over the room. When you make a bed ask the Holy Spirit to touch the one who sleeps there.” No, she never mentioned Brother Lawrence, but she understood his concepts thoroughly.
I was amazed to realize she shared the same birthday as my mother, though my mother was 14 years older than Matilda!
She often lamented “I was forty-three years old before I knew that God was excited on the day of my birth.” Then she would get excited over the love and mercy of God rejoicing over us all. She was one of His best cheerleaders! I learned recently that she died January 6, 2021 at the age of 92. The world is not as bright a place with her loss. But you could go forward teaching and practicing your faith like she did!
Part of her obituary read: “Matilda was a devout Christian, actively serving in her local Mennonite Church. In the 1970’s Matilda became President of the Buffalo Chapter of Women’s Aglow, and eventually served as a board member of Women’s Aglow International. The world opened up to her and she traveled extensively, spreading the gospel, and teaching women to discover their destiny. She was a true pioneer for women in ministry. She had speaking engagements in every state in the US and every province in Canada at least twice. Her travels led her as far as China, Sri Lanka, Israel, Egypt, the Philippines and many countries in between.”
Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.Titus 2:3-5 NRSV
I must agree with the Lord in saying well done, good and faithful servant! You are missed.
She also wrote a book “Uniquely His, Love Matilda” which I just ordered from Abe Books. If you are interested you should try ordering it from Abe Books online.
With her extended family ( 14th child of 14), her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren Matilda experienced many things that we also wrestle with. She especially liked to teach about ‘having a bad attitude.’ Speaking of attitudes she would mimic a sheep saying “Baaa-d attitude.”
She would tell the women that if they were not willing to forgive every slight, hurt and disappointment quickly, then they were giving ground to develop a bad attitude. In contrast, having a good attitude, staying clean in your heart and mind before God, blessings from heaven would shower you and those around you. 2 Corinthians 10:5b says “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
She prayed that letters would be filled with the Light of Christ. That the Holy Spirit would go before her in each meeting and encounter with others. When her son was leaning towards ways of the world she would pray over his bed. She asked God to come to him in dreams and show him the path of life. God did.
So this ordinary woman who never quoted Brother Lawrence knew how to practice the presence of God. She said that once she came to know the Holy Spirit she learned that God really does want us to to the New Testament teachings. Love one another (1 John 4:7-8)
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Choose life in every situation that develops in your realm. Over and over again choose life. If your husband is depressed, choose life and speak prayers for him choosing life. If your kids are rebellious, choose life. And focus on the life God wants to give them. Positive prayers can direct others towards positive paths. Not some magic hocus-pocus, but speaking life over them. Not focusing on what they are doing that you do not like, but placing the focus on what God calls them to do.
The gospel of Christ is simple and we complicate it many times over. Matilda knew a the simplicity of Christ. She taught those simple ways. That is not to say her life was easy. Certainly not. And our lives are not easy either! Knowing Christ is with us and can give us the words to pray through the Holy Spirit gives us confidence and courage. Pray with your spirit and your mind (1 Corinthians 14:15), Jesus is made unto us wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), and best of all …
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.Romans 8:11
Obviously I could go on and on. I would ask that you try relating to God as Matilda did. She knew that left to herself she would never get it right. She cried out to God for wisdom and insights. If you cannot relate to Brother Lawrence form the 1600s, perhaps you can related to Matilda Jantzi Kipfer Feb. 7, 1928 – Jan. 6, 2021. She rests in peace in her reward from Christ. This woman declares, well done, good and faithful servant!
And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!Psalm 84:5-7 The Message