Going Up Yonder–I used to hear that song all the time. It’s an old song, and when it’s sung right–in four-part harmony–it’s really quite a nice tune. Hearing it now always makes me think of the elderly saints in the old Pentecostal church down South. They’d lived a difficult life, scraped in the dust to grow enough food to feed their family, worked hard in hot, dusty fields and factories.
Many of the old gospel songs spoke of Heaven and the life beyond this one, for that very reason. Life was hard. Death came all too often, sneaking up and snatching away their loved ones. Not unlike those housewives, visiting the chicken yard on a Saturday morning. They had to have something for dinner of a Sunday.
I remember watching the scene as my grandma would choose a hen and go after it. All the other chickens would run for their lives. Did they have enough brains to know what they had avoided? Their lives returned to normal after Grandma left the pen, squawking bird in hand. Back to digging in the dirt, looking for bugs and earthworms. Something to fill their bellies, thus calming their fears.
Isn’t there more to life than this? Back then, I couldn’t wait to get back home where life was a little easier. We had indoor plumbing and air conditioning. Chicken came from the meat department of the local grocery. We picked fruit and vegetables from the bins in the produce department. Mom didn’t work in a hot, dusty factory. She sat at a desk in an air-conditioned office. Dad didn’t plow in the field, he got in the car and drove to his next appointment, selling insurance policies.
The experiences gained from life on the farm made me grateful for what I had. Happy to clean the sink and bathtub when it was my turn. I liked the aroma of chicken cooking without having to smell the bleed-out beforehand. I didn’t want to think about the living, breathing creature with eyes that held terror in its last moments. I just wanted to sink my teeth into the moist, tender meat that Mom put on the table.
Granny stood among those old saints who sang about going up yonder, way beyond the blue. Life in heaven someday was what they lived for. And she was determined to go there and take her entire family with her. Aunt Jen used to tell me about spending the night at Granny’s house when she (Aunt Jen) was a girl. At night, when all the lights were out and everyone was headed for sleep, Granny would lay upon her bed and pray. She’d call out the names of all of her children and grandchildren–Aunt Jen was one of those. I suspect later on, my name was brought up on a nightly basis, as one of the great-grands.
This was a way of life for Granny. A way to get from one day to the next. Speaking over her children and believing God that each one would live and not die. And that each one would live for Jesus. Granny lived to 96 years old. Many of her children and grandchildren, greats and great-greats were and are believers in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Her children and some of her grandchildren have all passed on now, but for the most part, they lived good, long lives.
I’m thankful for a granny who prayed and wrestled heaven and earth for her family. A hard-working, hard-praying woman who lost most of her sight as a girl, but kept right on. She even pieced and quilted almost up to the end, keeping her hands busy and mind occupied. No doubt her prayers accompanied the stitches she made.
Now I’m a grandmother. My children and grandchildren are the subjects of my daily prayers and I hope to pass on the faith that is a vital part of my life. The reason my forebears didn’t give up–the hope that got them out of bed in the morning–stirs in my heart each new day. I hope and pray that you’ve found that purpose in your life as well. If not, I hope you’ll take the time to find it.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Did you, or do you have parents or grandparents who pray(ed) for you? Have my memories sparked a few of your own? I’d love to hear them. I hope you’ll leave one or two of them in the comment section below. Happy Spring!