Late last week, my sister posted a picture on Facebook that triggered a flood of memories in me. When I opened the app that day, I had not expected that a hunting picture of our late grandfather who has been gone now for 9 years would be the first pic I’d see…it kind of took my breath away. In a flash I remembered grandpa’s rough whiskers with which he loved to tickle us grandkids. I remembered how he loved to tell stories…especially ones that involved hunting or baseball or family. I remembered how he would sit down at their kitchen table put on his dress shoes for church and wait for grandma to comb his hair with Groom & Clean (it was like Bryllcreem). I remembered how grandma adored him and he adored her just the same. I thought of the smiles and good times and how much we miss them both…
Eventually my memory rabbit chased its way down the trail to a certain time grandpa went bear hunting in Canada. Grandma & grandpa didn’t spend much time apart; he took occasional hunting trips and I know of one mission trip she went on to an orphanage in Haiti. This just happened to be the first time I remember grandma spending the night at our house. I honestly don’t remember much of her visit that time. I don’t remember how long she stayed or what we did together. I only remember she had to share a bed with me which made me very nervous because I was allegedly quite a kicker in my sleep. I was mortified at the thought of unknowingly kicking my beloved grandma in the midst of my nightly snooze. Maybe that’s what made me a little more aware that night of my surroundings. Who knows. But before I ever had an opportunity to accidentally do something I feared I might do, my grandma knelt beside my bed…with me in it…and started praying.
Just so you know, my grandma was not the kind of person who did stuff for show. She didn’t like to be in front of people, and she especially didn’t talking in front of groups of people. She was perfectly content to be at home with her family. I could go on and on, but just let it suffice to say she did not do stuff to get attention.
So there we were. I was in bed, she was beside it. And I got the most eye-opening insight into this private side of my grandma. Hers was no “Now I lay me down to sleep” recitation. She thanked God for her salvation. She thanked God for her family and her blessings. She prayed for grandpa–that he’d be protected on his hunt and make it home safely. She prayed for all five of her children and their spouses by name…for protection and that they’d all come to know Jesus in His goodness & fullness. She prayed for all 14 of us grandkids by name…again, for our protection, salvation and growth, both spiritually & physically. She moved on to pray for some friends and church people and others. It was literally one of the most amazing things my little ears had ever witnessed.
I felt as if I had just been told a sacred secret by a God Himself.
Here was my grandma, the one we went to church with…who made to-die-for Navajo fried bread, amongst other treats…who could make her own patterns and sew the most amazing creations…who would make us pancakes in special shapes when we spent the night with her…who was always the faithful worker in the fellowship hall and never the one behind a microphone at church…who I knew loved Jesus but I had no idea she prayed like that! I felt as if I had just been told a sacred secret by a God Himself.
I can’t emphasize how much that one night changed my life. I already loved God even at that young age and experienced salvation when I was only seven. But hearing my grandma pray just as boldly in front of my eavesdropping little ears as I assume she did every night by her own bed did something in me. I had just discovered another beautiful facet of the gem she was. She had her opinions, sure, but she was not an “in your face” person; that night I discovered she was an “on-her-face” person. Hearing her pray for all of us so passionately not only helped me see just how much she loved us, but it also created a faith in me. A faith by which I knew, no matter what, she’d be praying for us, for me, and she probably already had been for a very long time.
So now some thirty(ish) years later, Micah & I have our own kiddos to pray for. The four of us pray together at the usual mealtimes & bedtimes. We pray for them…and their teachers and school staff members…on the way to school. It’s important for them to hear and know that we entrust their welfare, growth and protection to God and that we trust Him to empower those who will be watching over them throughout their day (especially when we — gasp — occasionally don’t agree with everything every teacher or administrator does). Everyday, it builds their faith as they watch our prayers get answered. And it didn’t take long until they were asking to pray for sick friends or strangers passing by in ambulances or missing library books…and now their prayers are getting answered. I’m watching God build a foundation of faith in their lives with my very own eyes.
So thanks, grandma. Thanks for praying for your family. Thanks for praying for me. Thanks for letting my ears hear your faith. Thanks for letting my faith grow by hearing you pray with yours. You know what, grandma? Your prayers are still being answered in your family even though you’ve gone on to join the great cloud of witnesses. I hear your faith when I hear my momma pray and when I hear my kids pray. I hear it when my aunts tell me how God is working in my cousins’ lives. I see your servant heart when I watch your kids with their grandkids. I know you didn’t do it for the namesake, but you certainly passed an amazing heritage onto all of us. And because you and grandpa showed us how, we’ll pass it onto the generations after us. Thanks, grandma for that sacred secret…that was a night I’ll never forget.
…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
II Timothy 1:5 NKJV
P.S. I was blessed with amazing role models in my life but not everyone had the experience I had. If you didn’t have someone to show you those sacred secrets, know that you can change that for the generations following after you. YOU can BE the sacred secret teller!!