“Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on rock. When the rainy season set in, the torrent came and the winds blew and buffeted his house. It did not collapse; it had been solidly set on rock. Anyone who hears my words but does not put them into practice is like the foolish man who built his house on sandy ground. The rains fell, the torrents came, the winds blew and lashed against his house. It collapsed under all this and was completely ruined.”
We know that Jesus is the rock of our salvation, the one on whom our lives must rest if we are not to be carried away by the inevitable winds and storms of life. One person who understood and lived this truth well was Florence Nightingale who said, “How little can be done under the spirit of fear.”
Born in Florence, Italy, in 1810, and named after her birth city, Florence lived a brilliant, unselfish life, dying in 1910 at the age of 90. Florence’s father, a wealthy British gentleman, educated his two daughters in history, mathematics, philosophy, various languages, and classical literature. The family also traveled extensively. Florence loved learning and mastered each subject. Both her parents influenced her with a liberal humanitarian view of life. Florence’s education and her outlook proved valuable, especially after Florence received what she believed was her first call from God in 1837. She heard God calling her to devote her life to the service of others. An attractive young woman, Florence was courted by several affluent men. But she felt marriage would interfere with her desire to pursue a nursing career. So, she studied medical science.
When the Crimean War broke out, a friend who was the Secretary of War asked Florence, 38 volunteer nurses whom she had trained, and 15 Catholic Sisters to go to handle the masses of wounded and dying soldiers in a location across the Bosphorus Strait from modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. There she found inadequate supplies, food, and sanitation, along with an uncooperative staff. She and her volunteers got supplies sent from Britain, established the protocols of cleanliness, wound dressing, adequate meals, and comfort for the soldiers. There she earned the name “Lady of the Lamp.” This was because after a full day of working in the wards, she would carry a lamp to find her way among the wounded at night, offering help and encouragement as needed.
Suffering from fever and severe joint pain for at least 25 years, Nightingale continued serving whenever she could. After the war, she raised funds to educate nurses. By the 1860’s, she provided the first nursing staffs to care for the poor in London’s workhouses. She wrote a book outlining good nursing practices. The American Union Forces asked her for advice on setting up and running field hospitals during the Civil War. In the 1870’s, she mentored America’s first nurse, Linda Richards, who then had the ability to set up the first nursing schools in the United States. Florence continued writing, mentoring, and unselfishly caring for all she could until her death.
She did not build her life’s work on sand. No, she built the house of her life on God, her rock.
Florence Nightingale is today’s Ornament of Grace.
OBSERVING THE BEAUTIFUL ORNAMENTS
- Can sandy soil come in the form of thoughts, desires, or lack of direction?
- How is trusting in God in all life’s circumstances like building a house on rock?