Virginia

Virginia Stewart Metzler, nicknamed “Ginger,” was born in Houston, Texas. After high school, Virginia married John Thomas (Tommy) Barnett, Jr., a pilot, and moved to Liberia, West Africa. There they served as missionaries with R. G. LeTourneau for two years. After Tommy’s untimely death, Virginia moved back to the U.S. with her two small children, Vicki and Randy.

Virginia met Les Metzler after moving to California from Texas. They have now been married 52 years. Virginia and Les served as missionaries for 14 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics, including six years as support missionaries in the Philippines. Les and Virginia are the parents of two married children and an adopted daughter Hannah-Joy, a pre-med student. They are grandparents of eight grandchildren. Besides being a wife, mother and grandmother, Virginia is an artist, writer, a Bible teacher and a discipler of women. "God has been good to me all the days of my life! I have never doubted God’s care for me or for my family members, as well. His provisions for me, I have never doubted. I had read the account in Matthew about the birds and how God cares for them and because I believe the Bible, I trust Him to take care of me."

Matthew 6:26 says,

“…are you not worth much more than they?”

          My dad was a farmer. Actually, he w4 years oldas a sharecropper who farmed about fifty of the ninety-eight acre farm owned by our local banker. Dad would go to the bank and borrow seed money on his handshake. In our family, the emphasis was on core-values such as truth, honesty, integrity, and keeping one's word. Loyalty and trust were high on that list as well. Our parents had taught us those things, among many others and they were part of our lives and were enforced daily. We may have been poor but we were expected to live our lives above and beyond reproach.

          I was about the age of ten or eleven when my dad said to me, “I've spent my whole life building a reputation of dignity, honor, honesty and keeping my word. Don't you ever do anything to bring dishonor to my name or my reputation!” His admonishment haunted me all during my youth and to my knowledge, I have kept his reputation intact.

          Simple lessons I learned from living on the farm. Most of them had a spiritual application that only in my later years, have I been able to fully appreciate or even grasp. Strange, isn't it how a simple statement can leave a “ripple” effect in a person's life? It would be the same as tossing a rock into a lake that sent out ripples that grew wider and wider. Eventually, one little pebble affects the entire lake. Also, there are “ripples” in our spiritual insights or assessments; they can be seen in EVERYTHING. But we must open our eyes and hearts to see them.

          My dad used a horse to plow back in the late forties. And I loved to follow him in the fields as he plowed with ole Clyde. I loved the feel of the cool, damp, newly plowed ground beneath my toes and the smell of the freshly turned soil. I would stretch my legs as far as possible to fit my own small feet into my dad's bigger footprints.

          But ole Clyde was a story all of his own. The name Clyde stood for Clydesdale because that was his pedigree! Those huge horses with their big, hairy feet are massive and strong. My dad rescued Clyde from a life of being used as a logging horse. There they worked him very long, hard hours every day. The loggers were not always kind to horses like Clyde.

          My dad's purpose in acquiring Clyde was to use him as a plow-horse. But it was not an easy task to plow with ole Clyde. His feet were so large that he managed to step on almost every delicate plant my dad had planted in our fields. Dad used some choice words with Clyde but ole Clyde didn't seem to mind at all. I always felt that ole Clyde was smiling as he plopped those big, hairy feet down the rows with Dad walking with the plow behind him.

          When I was about seven years old, I was following my dad one morning as he plowed with ole Clyde. But on that particular day Clyde had a mind of his own. If Clyde decided the way to go, that was the way Dad went. More often than not, Clyde resisted Dad's tug on the reins. Sometimes Clyde would drag my dad behind him as my dad fought to regain control of him. I must repeat myself and say, Clyde had a mind of his own! Clyde did what Clyde wanted to do! For no reason at all, Clyde would take my dad on unscheduled romps through the fields. Dad was With my dognot pleased those hair-raising jaunts!

          One day as I followed my dad in the fields, I began to pummel him with questions. I had always heard, “timing is everything” but what does a seven year old know about timing? I'm sure there must have been a better time than when my dad was being dragged all over the south forty by that humongous hunk of horse flesh. Kids are filled with questions, at least this kid was! I said something to my dad (who was trying to plow), when he stopped Clyde, turned to me and said, “Virginia, you ask more questions than a New York lawyer!” Then he said something that took me more than a few years to truly understand its meaning; he said to me, “I cannot plow and turn to answer your questions. If I turn to look or talk with you, Clyde will turn around, too. Once I've begun to plow, I can not look back.”

           Years later, as I sat reading my Bible, I came upon a verse that riveted my attention. The verse took me back to those times my dad plowed with Clyde. It was:

Luke 9:62
“No man, when putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is worthy of the kingdom of God.”

The Lord revealed to me the truth spoken to me so long ago; it was a beautiful moment. I learned that I needed to take charge of my relationship with God and keep an undivided focus on Him. It is impossible to follow Christ while looking back at the world or anything I've left behind me. That was the reason Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt! She not only looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah, she grieved-over having to leave that very sinful place.

            God’s desire for us is to “set our sights” on Him and never waiver in either our journey or our devotion to Him.

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