“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5. I enjoy this little mention by the Apostle Paul of his knowledge of the genuine faith of his good friend Timothy… just a short little verse which speaks volumes of the faith, perseverance and dedication of Timothy’s grandmother and mother. How many women stood strong and passed onto their children a faith and love for Jesus? We will know when we get to heaven what a treasure they gave us.
My Maternal Grandmother was a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. If we start there–“in the beginning”, then it pretty much takes off in an amazing direction, doesn’t it? The repercussions of the faith of one woman, passed onto her children, then, her children’s children, and their children. One comfort I look forward to is the ultimate “family reunion” I will have in heaven with my long ago departed Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and extended relatives on my Mother’s side of the family.
As a child, our family would visit Grandma Ruby who lived just 70 miles from our home. How we loved to visit Grandma! She lived on the same dairy farm she had raised her 5 children on after the death of my Grandfather. Grandpa had diabetes, and the church members had said that if he really believed that God would heal him, he would lay aside his insulin and trust in the Lord… the Lord took him home at the age of 33. Grandma’s faith was tested, and for long time, she didn’t attend her church. Eventually she reconciled her lot with God, and as long as I knew her, she always spoke of the Lord and trusted in Him.
Grandma never shared the gospel to me in a literal sense, and I’d say she really didn’t need to, as her life was a witness of her faith and trust. She truly was a woman of God, always gentle and kind, honest, truthful, generous, modest, upstanding, and diligent in her work. I never heard my Grandmother say one unkind word about anyone. When my mother and brothers would visit, we always went to Gram’s little Pentecostal church in a small, run-down town. I can still see the inside… old-fashioned wooden theater seats bolted to the floor in rows, and on the back of the seat in front of us would be a little holding place and there for your comfort, were cardboard fans with a wooden handle. The fans would have a scene of The Last Supper or Jesus knocking at the door, and on the flip side, an advertisement for the local funeral home.
In the mid 1950’s, music was a huge part of the Hillview Pentecostal Church; it rocked! The pastor’s wife played a guitar, her daughter a piano, and one of my cousins would play the accordion. There were clapping of hands, tapping of toes, plenty of shouts of “Alleluia!”, “Praise the Lord!” and raising of hands in praise to the God that took care of them. Many poor people attended this church, but they were rich in spirit. When I showed up with my shiny patent leather shoes, pretty dress and little purse, I instantly recognized the difference in lifestyles. I felt sorry for the little girls who might not have even had socks to wear, just bare feet in their shoes.
The pastor was kind and friendly, but he made no bones about nor made any excuses for preaching the Gospel or pointing out sin. He would shout, pound the podium, gesture, and loudly proclaim, “Thank ya’ Jesus!”, and the others in the church would join in agreement. Everyone was referred to as “Sister so and so” and “Brother so and so”. My brothers and I found those references somewhat amusing, not knowing that the reason was because believers are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
As a child one time while visiting Grandma, I calmly told her I would be skipping church that upcoming Sunday. Grandma was aghast! She had never heard of such a thing, and I found myself sitting next to her in church that following Sunday listening to her aged grandma voice straining to sing the hymns. When Grandma was old, and I would spend a week in the summer, I slept in her bed with her. She would lie there wearing her little, rough cotton home-stitched night-cap tied under her chin and have me recite the prayer she taught me: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen”. Once she told me that the Lord only gives us 70 years to live so considered herself on “borrowed time”.
Grandma planted seeds of faith in me just by living out her life. My Aunts and Uncles and cousins did that too, and when I finally did come to faith in Jesus Christ, all I had heard and seen in those childhood years, came into play. We have heard the saying, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day”, and yes, people do need to hear the Gospel, but I am wondering if seeing it is much more powerful and maybe more of a difficult way to live the Christian life. We know people are watching our walk and listening to what we reveal about ourselves.
Yesterday I was a bit down. I was thinking how we are born to live on this earth and life is rather pointless. We work hard to make a living and we expect so much of this life. The disappointments and heartaches come, and then we find ourselves at the end thinking, what’s it all for? Life sometimes seems like some sort of cruel joke played on us. But today I am thinking that all I need to do is emulate Grandma Ruby. Be kind, be honest, do for others, (share the Gospel in word and deed!) and let the rest–the unimportant, go by the wayside. I think when life looks glum, just be like Jesus… that’s the most important thing.
*In the photo at top, Grandma Ruby was all spiffy-looking and headed to church. Her Bible was under her left arm, her “pocket-book” in her hand. I used to play on her wooden front porch where she had morning glories struggling to grow on the trellis, and spindly petunias in window boxes. Tall Maple trees full of chirping sparrows shaded the south side. I have the large flower-pot that is shown to her right.