Hello, it’s Thursday morning! What an eventful week it’s been since last I wrote to you. We’ve endured a wintry onslaught, and lots more rain. It’s still raining, but at least the weather has warmed to a more spring-like temperature.
The approach of Easter has me thinking deeply about the grace of God.
I’m studying the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible, and as I read the final verses of chapter 12, I was reminded of one of my grandmothers.
“And neither will I walk off and leave you. That would be a sin against God! I’m staying right here at my post praying for you and teaching you the good and right way to live.”
My granny, Belle Thomason, prayed over her family. Kind of like counting sheep, she repeated the names of her children and grandchildren, as many as she could remember. Every night, she prayed over all of us, because she considered it a sin not to pray.
She felt a call of God on her life to pray for those God had given her. The ones she’d given birth to, those who married into the family, and the ones birthed by her children, then her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She lived to the age of 96. That’s a lot of days, and so many prayers going up.
Did they work? Did God answer? I can remember a lot of tragedies, illnesses, losses. Does that mean God didn’t hear her prayers?
Well, I also remember a lot of good and wonderful things. Years later, generations gone by, if you lined us all up, you’d find a great number of Granny’s children who serve the Lord, and not only serve, but love the Lord with all their hearts.
Don’t give up. Though it seems your prayers are fruitless, and God doesn’t listen. Keep on. Never stop. Begin and end each day with a prayer, and see if it doesn’t make a difference in the long run. You see, Granny was a marathon runner, rather than a sprinter. She’d giggle at that analogy, but it’s true, all the same.
She never gave up on any of her babies, even when they seemed to be headed in the wrong direction.
Dad said Granny was “holiness.” Where they were from, deep in the Bible belt, that meant she went to the Church of God. Full gospel believers. Holy rollers. All I knew, is she wore long-sleeved dresses, mid-calf in length, and never cut her hair. She never wore makeup, either. But she had a deep joy inside that wasn’t troubled by what she saw happening around her.
She pieced and quilted until she couldn’t see anymore, and even then, she still made stitches, though they might not line up perfectly. Many of the family slept under quilts she’d sewn and each one knew, Granny had prayed all the while she worked. Those were prayer quilts.
She wasn’t super spiritual or dour, though. Granny could laugh and tell the occasional joke. She’d lived a life threaded with troubles, but stayed the course.
Her husband was an alcoholic, and he’d been known to sleep around. I’m not sure of the story, because it was never talked about, but they divorced. One of her sons died at an early age when his appendix burst. Another of her sons (my grandfather) died at the hand of his brother-in-law. My grandfather had followed in his daddy’s footsteps. He was an alcoholic. My uncle shot him to stop him from trying to kill my grandma. But that’s another story for another time.
So, you see, Granny’s life was often fraught with troubles. But the prayers never stopped. She didn’t give up. She lived to see most of her family living good lives. The alcoholism that ran deep in their veins lost its hold in my dad’s generation. All four of the children in dad’s family fought a battle with the drink and won. All four died knowing salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
What I’ve learned from all this and hope to pass on to you—my grandmotherly advice—is to never give up. Even when the outlook is bleak. Even when it seems there’s no way out. A prayer whispered into the darkness all those years ago, tugs at my heartstrings now.
Granny loved Jesus, and she passed that love forward to several generations. It’s time for me to take it up and carry it forward. Maybe it’s time for you, too.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]