“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
*Picture of Grandma and me from 2003
Growing up, Grandma used to always quote Scripture to me during our conversations. Most of the time I didn’t even realize she was doing this, it was just part of her normal talking style. Sometimes, it would be years later (and even now), I would read or hear a Scripture, pause, look up, and say to myself, “Grandma used to say that to me”–and there it was in the Bible. But she wouldn’t always stop and say it was in the Bible. She gushed the Word of God, organically.
I was privy to the benefit of having this woman raise me, so as a young boy, teenager, and then young adult, my heart was constantly flooded with seeds of Jesus’ teaching. Most of the time I didn’t want to hear it. Although sometimes I thought Grandma was strange, as did many other people, there was an underlying confidence she had, absolutely everyone respected her–but not out of fear.
And not only did she naturally display a spiritual poise unlike no other, she was a source of protection in a very odd way. Just being in her presence, any fear or anxiety I had would almost instantly go away.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the Holy Spirit protruding from this fat little lady with the big smile and boisterous personality. I know that now, because sometimes I’ll be around people and they’ll say, “I don’t know what it is about you, but there’s something different,” only they’ll say this with a mannerism of confidence in me. When this happens, I’ll usually respond with, “That’s the Holy Spirit in me,” and smile.
Jesus naturally shines out of us when we are being our true selves as God’s children. Of course, it wasn’t always like this. I fought God’s guidance for most of my life, trying to replace our relationship with things, money, reputation, addictions, and people. I believe deep in my heart if it weren’t for Grandma’s prayers I’d be dead.
As Christians, what we don’t understand is when we are walking by the flesh, life will never make sense, no matter how long we live that way. An internal battle will happen, and keep happening, until we turn from fleshly living. We’ve been reborn of God so walking by His Spirit is the only way we can get true fulfillment. When we feel far from God, we’re not. Feelings can’t change the fact that He’s infused with our spirit–which is a one-time event (1 Corinthians 6:17). But no matter how we feel, when we are making lots of poor choices, it’s the prayers of others helping to keep us safe. Grandma’s prayers for me and her prayers for many, many other people, did just that.
But it wasn’t just her prayers which have helped me become who I am today, it was also her style of teaching the gospel. She was never aggressive, she never tried to force-feed us biblical teaching. Instead, she kindly offered up the gospel on a platter with love. Grandma never used guilt or condemnation on me, she made Jesus look appealing even when she was correcting me.
From the time I was a small boy in the 80s, to a teenager in the 90s, when Grandma would quote Scripture to me or talk about God in our conversations, she always did so with gentleness and respect. She never pushed me to believe but showed me grace. She never tried to instill fear in my mind, or barked at me for my blatant sinning, she just made Jesus look good through her life.
She exuded a rock-solid confidence that the neighborhood wanted to be around, yet, she still had the softness of a spring flower. It was a strange paradox, like a lion and a lamb, both at the same time. And everyone went to her–I mean everyone–in their time of need for prayer, advice, and support.
“Go see Granny Mac.”
She knew God, and we all knew it.
But how? How was this lady who cooked too much fried chicken so in-tune with our Creator? What made her so different in the fact that somehow, someway, it seemed as if God was specially with Grandma at all times? Simple: She flooded her soul with the words about Jesus with the consistency of an IV drip.
The Bible says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). This is what made her different. This is what set her apart. She had an intimate relationship with God because she knew who she was and she constantly wanted to learn more.
I can remember getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and she’d be sitting at the kitchen table reading her Bible. Or I’d come home from high school for lunch and she’d have me a Totino’s personal pizza made, with extra cheese, and while I ate it she’d be watching TBN and telling me how handsome I was.
Sometimes I’d walk in the back door at dusk, drenched in sweat from playing basketball at the sports complex, and she’d be on the phone praying with someone, again.
“Grandma, I need to use the phone.”
“Oh hush your mouth, you can wait.”
And she always wrote stuff down, and also, wrote many people letters of encouragement. Bible Scriptures and notes about something she read about God or heard on TV were all over the place. She would even scribble all over the bills that had to be paid. “Matthew, hand me that envelope. I want to write something down.”
She’d always be singing as well. This was one of my favorite things about her. She’d be running us kids around town, and the radio was broke because so were we, so she’d be humming an old hymn. Sometimes, she’d just get louder and louder, until we’d all start singing with her. Dishes would be piled up after dinner, and she wouldn’t yell at us kids to clean up. Instead, she’d just start hand-washing everything (because we didn’t have a dish-washing machine) and all the while doing so, she’d be softly singing songs to Jesus.
She enjoyed a close relationship with God because she wanted it. She enjoyed a close relationship with God because she continually saturated her mind with His words and graceful teaching. Even now at almost 90 she still won’t be quiet about Jesus. “Matthew, please be praying for so and so. God is doing a work in their lives.”
“Matthew, if those foster parents who said you’d never become anything could only see you now…my oh my, they’d be shocked. God sure has blessed you, son. I’m so proud of you.”
She’s lived her life by the Spirit of God in her. She’s lived her life according to her true self. Not by rules, not by religious laws, and not by using scare tactics to get people to stop doing dumb stuff…but by love. She loves Jesus, and because of that love for Him she’s loved everyone else the same. There are no words to type which will properly express how grateful I am to Grandma–that is, for showing me the real love of God and how to get to know Him better. All I can say is, “Thank you, Grandma. I was a life that was changed.”
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, today I want to thank you for giving me my grandma. When I think about how blessed I am to have her blood running through my veins, I get a lump in my throat. You decided to bless me with her before you even formed this planet, and I’m so thankful! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who didn’t get the benefit of having such a wonderful person in their lives, I ask that you reveal yourself to them on a deep level. I ask that you help them come to know you unlike they ever have before! Give them brand new desires for your grace! If they are believers, those desires are already there–so simply remind them of who they are! Reveal the organic confidence, love, and hope they already possess! Empower them to pass these important things on to the next generations, just like Grandma has! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!