Lately, I have been tracing some of my roots through my family history. It’s interesting even when the lack of records is a little frustrating. My people were pretty simple; they didn’t make many headlines. There are birth, death and marriage records, but not too many other mentions. And because I was a late in life baby, I only remember my grandparents as very old people.
But I do remember them, especially my paternal grandmother. She was a tall, thin woman with an unshakeable faith and convictions. A member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Methodist church, she knew a Bible verse starting with each letter of the alphabet. Each morning during our vacations at their house, she would have me read out of Our Daily Bread and the Bible. Grandma had glaucoma and was long past being able to read printed text. I realize now that my parents, who were considerably less religious, figured that some reading practice for me would free them from a long theological discussion over breakfast! I learned a lot of Bible verses with Grandma. Years later, I found her daily devotions book from before ODB, filled with marginal notes and articles pinned to the leaves with rusty straight pins. Grandma just lived for church and I was the one delegated to sit next to her; everyone else in the family was embarrassed by her vocal reactions to the worship service. But as she aged, and dementia gradually took over, I also saw the fruits of all that religious practice. My grandmother was always happy. As she grew older, she talked out loud with God all day. She lived to be 97 years old, and every single day, she knew that God would take care of her.
As an adult, I see religion and theology rather differently than my grandma did. I suspect that she would be a little bewildered by my progressive thought. But I so appreciate the love of Scripture that she gave me. I don’t have an alphabet of Bible memory verses as she did, but there are stories in the Bible that are as real to me as though they happened yesterday. And in my darkest moments, I have held on to the belief that if Grandma could trust God through her dementia, I could trust God to help me, too.
Maybe you had a relative whose faith was so strong that it helped you believe. Spend a few minutes today thinking about what that person taught you about faith. Remember the glow you felt when you were with them. What is different about your faith now? What is the same? Could you be that influence for some little person who needs to hear the Good News?
I love to tell the story. Twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.