The kids that used to drive her crazy were mostly grown and now had driven her to her knees instead. And not just them, but this granddaughter she was helping to raise and the ladies in Appalachian Ohio who knew her but didn’t know her Jesus.
So, that early morning when I didn’t think anyone else was awake and found her in the living room on her knees in front of her chair, her Bible open and head bowed, I knew I was seeing the secret to how she loved and lived when she got up off her knees. The God of wonder she saw in the pages of that Book convinced her he was still in the business of jaw-dropping, life-changing work. In fact, she knew it from how her own life was changing.
Since I was born that pedal to the metal day in April, God, through better teaching at a new church, was softening my grandma’s heart with compassion and genuine Christ-like love. She was seeing the depths of her own sin and knew what people needed most wasn’t to clean up their lives on the outside to make God happy but to be washed
clean on the inside.
So, she made it her business to take his heart-cleaning message to all she knew. We’d load up in the car and drive those twists and turns to visit ladies in the hills who chewed tobacco and didn’t have any teeth. We’d walk and talk with neighbors nearby. If she knew you, she loved you, and wanted you to know of an even greater Love than hers.
My grandma was the first missionary I knew, although she never moved out of southeastern Ohio. She lived his mission right where she was all day, every day. She was the first person to tell me about Jesus. God helped her to turn all those sorrowful regrets she had from not raising her own kids in a Christian home, into faithfulness to teach me about him. When we lived with her, and then later when she had me on weekends and in the summers, she’d start in the morning talking about Jesus and off and on all day, until we ended our day praising him and thanking him still.
She lived and breathed the Word of God and packed his truth in my heart from the time I could barely speak. I was the three-year-old memory verse champion at their church because of her.
I, like young Timothy, saw faith first in my grandmother. And soon, her faith became my faith too, when I asked her how I could be part of God’s family. Belonging to his family was the truth God used to show me I was not one of his children. In a very small way, I must’ve known I could survive without an earthly father, but couldn’t without my Heavenly one. And this gracious Father, who had such compassion on this fatherless little girl, accepted me as his very own daughter, when I asked him to save me from my sins. And my precious Grandma was kneeling there beside me as I prayed to him.
A few years later, when I called their house to see if she made it home safely in the snow storm from the Christian school where she taught, and my grandpa couldn’t answer me but asked to talk to my uncle instead, I knew something was horribly wrong.
The car had to be removed with the jaws of life from the creek where it sunk after spinning out of control on the ice and snow-covered roads. Her possessions were found down the creek after it thawed.
I remember someone handing me her Bible they found there. The pages, now dry, were crinkled and brittle from being wet. I held it in my hands and opened it to see her markings covering the pages. The ink was blotchy and her handwriting faded. I may have been the only one who knew that before it’s pages were wet with creek water, they were wet with the tears of a kneeling mother praying urgently for her grown children to come to faith, and the tears of a friend burdened for her friends and neighbors to trust Jesus, and the weeping of a grandmother asking God to protect and grow her nine-year-old granddaughter to become a godly lady.
But now I’m not the only one who knows, Grandmothers, not to underestimate your influence over your grandkids. What they see you value and the priorities that shape your day are teaching them. What you talk about and who you talk to are communicating something to them too.
You may not love their home life or the way their parents do things, but for the sake of their souls and their future, love them enough to give them something more than toys, sweets, clothes, and trips. Give them something that 30 years later, when you’re dead and gone, still will be bearing fruit in their lives and in others lives because of your intentionality, selflessness, sacrifice, and grace-driven persistence.
My grandma would want me to tell you, you don’t know how long you have, so don’t waste your grand-mothering.
My grandma was killed in that car accident in 1985, at the age of 49, when I was just 9-years-old. In those 9 short years I had with her, she shaped the rest of my life by investing in me spiritually.
What children/teens has God placed in your circle of influence?
How are you using your time with them and what priorities are you communicating to them through your words and example?
Have you bought into the American mindset that since the work of parenting is over you can now indulge and entertain your grandchildren instead of passing along your faith and growing wisdom from the Lord?
If so, how, by God’s grace, can you be more intentional in giving your grandchildren something that will outlive you?