As I got ready for church this past Sunday morning, I went through my normal routine. Once everyone in the house is awake I begin by playing worship music and turning the volume up to eleven. After showering and getting dressed I turn my attention to grooming my beard. As usual, I opened my top drawer to grab my beard comb. Next to the beard comb were two pictures. These two pictures had sat there for the last 10 months, untouched, unnoticed, and almost forgotten. This day was different though. On this day, the pictures struck a nerve in my heart that they had not struck before. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I could feel the pain of loss growing in my heart. The picture that I was staring at was of my grandmother and me. I couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old. There I was, sitting on the hood of a Ford Bronco with my grandmother standing next to me and her arm around me. It has been almost a year since my grandmother passed away. Staring at that picture was the first time that I really felt the actual loss of her in my life. For some reason on this morning my heart longed to hear her voice. The way she would say, “Billy Gene” every time she referred to my dad, or the way she would say “bat-tree” instead of battery. As I stared at the picture, my heart began to ask some questions of God. Why did she go when she did? Why couldn’t she have lived as long as her mother had? The reality of her death became heavy for me.
As I felt the pain of loss, a song came on the radio. It was “Goodness of God” by Bethel. The chorus goes like this...
And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
As these lyrics rung in my ear, my mind started racing through all of the memories I have of her. I was able to remember how much she loved and spoiled me. I recalled all of the camping trips we went on. I remembered the look of pride on her face when she got to hold her first great grandchild, Genevieve. And then I remembered the last day we were with her. It was last spring when we said our goodbyes and laid her to rest in a cemetery next to the small country church where she was a member. The eulogy I gave that morning simultaneously felt like a joy and a burden. My heart flashed from immense pride that I had the honor to speak the gospel at her funeral, to immense sadness at the fact that she was gone. The truth is that I don’t remember most of what I said that day. But, as I stared at her picture last Sunday, God reminded me of His goodness through my grandmother. How, as I looked around at the funeral, I was able to see her impact for the gospel over her lifetime.
My grandmother never went on a mission trip. She never led a Sunday school class, or anything in the church for that matter. And yet, her impact on the Kingdom was great. What was her contribution? Prayer and faithfulness to the gospel. My grandmother knew a few things. First, she knew that prayer is a powerful means of grace that we have been given by God. I never remember a day that my grandmother wasn’t praying when I got to her house in the morning. I never remember a day that I was home from school that she didn’t get a call from the church prayer chain. She understood the power of prayer. Second, she knew that God’s Word never returns void. She was a regular Bible reader herself but, more than that, she understood that the proclamation of God’s Word would renew hearts and turn them back to Jesus. This passion for God’s Word drove her to bring to church anyone that was visiting her house on church night. My grandmother brought me to countless Vacation Bible Schools at the church. Even if my grandmother didn’t know what to say in sharing the gospel, she knew that she needed to get people to God’s Word and the Spirit would move in their lives.
Her life of faithfulness to Christ culminated on this day in the cemetery next to that little church. That church where she would drag all of us to hear the gospel. That church where she got to see her husband and son be baptized together, after decades of praying for their salvation. That’s the church where she was laid to rest on a cold and gloomy day, surrounded by almost one hundred friends and family. And, as I looked around the crowd before the service began, I saw the faces of people that she had prayed for. I saw the faces of people that she had drug to church as kids. I saw souls that were cared for and introduced to Jesus through the prayers and faithfulness of the woman who laid in the casket. It was a beautiful moment were I saw the goodness of God in the life of my grandmother. And this caused me to see the goodness of God in my life as well. I have no clue how much impact her faithfulness and prayer has had in my life. All I know is that God answered her prayers for my salvation.
After a long time of staring at the picture of us, I had to wipe away tears. Some tears were from the sorrow of missing her, and some were from the joy of the goodness of God in my life through her. I still felt the loss of not having her but, as I sang praises to Jesus in church that morning, my heart was a little fuller than usual from recalling the goodness of God in my life.
If there are times when you feel insignificant in God’s kingdom, I want to remind you that the things that often feel small (like prayer and faithfulness) are not little things in God’s economy. In this life, you will never fully know the impact that your prayers have had. But, I assure you that being faithful in prayer is being a faithful servant of Jesus.