Grandmotherly Advice

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, 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.

Granny’s in the middle!

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]

In the Waiting Room

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31

I hate waiting.

It seems like wasted time to me.  So, when I was reminded of the scripture above–it kind of felt like chastisement. Just a little bit.

This would be my conversation with that sweet spirit I should be listening to during those waiting times:

Sweet Spirit: “What are you thinking about?”

Me, tapping my foot: “Why is he so late? Doesn’t he realize my time is important too?”

Sweet Spirit: “Maybe there’s a problem. Maybe you should pray for him.”

Me: “Maybe.”

Maybe, God is using this waiting time to teach me something. Maybe it’s during the waiting times that we can mount up with wings like eagles and soar.

But how can I fly freely when I’m griping and complaining, and stewing over my precious time?

I turn my thoughts to prayer, and another passage of scripture comes to mind…

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas have been arrested and thrown in jail. They’re waiting. Waiting for morning, waiting to find out their fate. Are they whining and complaining? Crying and mad? Throwing a pity party?

None of the above.

Verse 25-26: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” NIV (bold & italics are mine)

They were praying and praising God.

VERY IMPORTANT POINT — “and the other prisoners were listening to them.”

Sometimes we’re throwing a big fit and others are watching…and listening. But if you react with grace, follow the whispers of the Sweet Spirit in your heart…you might not witness the drama Paul and Silas and the prisoners did, but you may make a very positive impression on those around you–the other folks in the “waiting room.”

When you’ve shown grace and patience in the face of difficulty, your coworkers may trust you with their troubles. Your children will learn to react in kind. Your situation may calm and change.

Paul and Silas had to have been weary from their very troubled day. But through prayer and praising God, they mounted up with wings as eagles. Paul’s presence of mind saved lives and paved the way for many to receive faith that night. This would not have happened, had he harbored angry thoughts and allowed himself to brood on their bad situation.

One more thing: Though the prison doors swung open, and the chains fell off, no one moved. No prisoners fled the scene. This saved not only the prisoners’ lives, but the lives of the guards.

And opened the door wide for those who saw the whole thing to enter into the Kingdom of God.

As a result, there was great rejoicing, instead of mourning and loss.

Are you weary from waiting? Reassure yourself through prayer and praise. Then try quieting your thoughts, to hear the voice of that Sweet Spirit.

Have you had a “waiting room” experience that resulted in renewed faith and energy?

Tweet: Do you hate waiting? Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.

Bonus verse: We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. Colossians 1: 11-12 MSG