March 1, 2021

Until Tomorrow

My heart used to jump when her voice came over the loudspeaker: "Jill, please come to my office."

Jill Morikone

I miss her. I miss her humor, the twinkle in her eye when she talked. I miss her candor and the way she’d set me straight. I miss her unmistakable shift to gentleness, for which one was never quite prepared. Expecting to find justice, I’d be surprised by grace. A woman of dignity coupled with fairness—that was our Mollie Steenson.

For all outside purposes, Danny Shelton was the face of 3ABN, the person whom others knew and recognized. But Miss Mollie ran the day-to-day operations. She was the one who mothered and mentored, managed and maintained, this ministry. She stamped our paychecks, approved new programs,and answered difficult questions.

My heart used to jump when her voice came over the loudspeaker: “Jill, please come to my office.” Oh, what did I do now? Sometimes it was a quick question; other times, an issue needed investigating. Occasionally she would lean forward and simply pour wisdom and grace into me. I would sit, trying to remember everything. When Mollie spoke, you listened.

She never talked about herself. Never bragged or boasted. When a toilet was plugged, she plunged it. When an attitude demanded attention, she spoke. When someone needed encouragement, she was the first to pray.

For years many didn’t know she struggled with cancer. She would go to the doctor, receive chemotherapy or radiation, and return to work. She never spoke of her hardships or her pain. I often wondered how she did it.

My heart used to jump when her voice came over the loudspeaker: “Jill, please come to my office.”

I serve at this ministry because of Miss Mollie. I was hired because of her. She saw something in me, 19 years ago, and sought to develop that. I’ll never forget when she leaned across her desk and said, “I believe that when I’m gone, God will want you to sit at this desk. Do my work. Manage this ministry.” It was a big dream for a girl who didn’t like confrontation, who didn’t want to manage. All I knew was God had called me to this ministry. I was passionate about the gospel of Jesus and the privilege of sharing that with the world.

When she retired, I thought I’d call her often. But the busyness of work somehow got in the way. I saved her last text to me, written at the end, when her spirit shone forth brightly in a body ravaged by cancer. It simply read, “I be loven you.”

As I write this I sit in the office that used to be hers, tears streaming down my face. Since she’s been gone I’ve so wanted to talk with her, but she’s no longer here. Why is it when someone is gone that you realize how much they meant to you?

What would I give for one more day with her? In the meantime, I seek to honor her legacy: to lead with fairness, to administer with grace, to extend forgiveness.

And one day soon it will be tomorrow. Until then, I will be faithful. Until tomorrow.

Jill Morikone is vice president and chief operations officer for Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.