Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Legacy Of Love

Last night my Grandma Wilson (my mom's mom passed away) peacefully at around 9pm. She was 85 years old. The last 3-4 years of her life had been challenging ones for her with ongoing health issues that made getting out of bed each day a painful experience. Although her body continued to deteriorate in her latter years, her mind was as sharp as ever. I will miss my grandma very much, but at the same time I am thankful that God took her home yesterday.

Over the last few days, various memories of my grandma have been on my mind. There are many things that I admire as I think about my grandma, but I think her greatest legacy will be her love. She loved my grandpa, she loved her kids, and she loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and even her great,great-grandchildren). You could not visit grandma's house without knowing that you were loved.

I grew up within walking distance (or a short drive) of grandma's house. It has always been one of my favorite places to visit! I never left with an empty stomach. I loved dinners with her and my grandpa, and watching television while eating popcorn and coke. In addition, my grandma always made sure that the house was "stocked" with milk and oreos when I came to visit.

When I moved to Chicago and began working in ministry here, my grandma became one of my most faithful supporters (with her prayers, her love, and her financial giving). She refused to send her checks to Sunshine, because she wanted to ensure that I got every penny:). Each month, she sent me a little card with her monthly check. Although she never totally understood how her grandson who grew up in Paw Paw came to love Chicago and serve in ministry there, each time I would see her she would make it a point to tell me "she was proud of me and what I was doing."

This past week I was able to visit with her on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, before she slid into a coma late Wednesday afternoon. I will always cherish that visit. She was very frail and very tired, and continued to go in and out of sleep. However, during the moments she was awake she was very sharp and grateful for everyone who was there to visit. I was able to tell her that I loved her, and she told me how much she loved me and how much I made her smile. I was even able to joke with her as I always had. Just before lunch time some friends of hers visited who happened to be musicians. The man brought his harmonica and his small guitar. We all surrounded my grandma's bed and he played hymn after hymn about the hope we have in Christ. I could tell that my grandma greatly enjoyed the songs. We then circled up for prayer, lifting up my grandma and trusting the Lord for his will to be done. It was a very emotional time for me. Later that afternoon, my grandma slid into a diabetic coma.

My grandma had a peace about dieing, a peace that only came because of her faith in Christ. She was ready to go home to be with her Lord. My grandma was never one to be outspoken about her faith in Christ. However, she lived her faith out loud. You could see the love of Christ in her countenance, and in the love she showed to everyone she met. You could see the love of Christ in her hospitality and in the love you felt when you were at "grandma's house." I rejoice in the fact that she is no longer suffering, but rather worshiping in the presence of King Jesus!

I will always be grateful for the relationship I had with my grandma. She was such a special lady! I will miss her SO much!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Low Expectations

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to spend time with our Bridge Builders group (89 college students here for the week) as they had a chance to meet two pastors who serve nearby us on the south side. My intent heading into the morning was to do a brief orientation with the group and then to leave. However, after staying and hearing Bishop Peecher share I decided to stay with the group for their time with Pastor Brooks as well. God was definitely sovereign in orchestrating my time yesterday morning. I heard two amazing testimonies of the power of God displayed on behalf of His people through two pastors and two churches. Both men shared how God did the impossible on their behalf. It both inspired me and caused me to reflect on what I am believing God for. Do I believe that God can do amazing things in and through me, through Sunshine, through my church (Christ Bible Church), etc?

This morning I read a daily devotional from "Experiencing God" by Henry & Richard Blackaby entitled "Raising Our Expectations." It states, "Too often we settle for much less than what God wants to do through us. We read in Jeremiah 32:27: 'I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?' and we answer, 'No Lord." Yet, when we face difficult situations we begin to qualify our belief in God and lower our expectations of what God will do. It is one thing to God could perform a miracle in the Bible, or a thousand years ago, or even in the life of a friend; it is quite another matter to wholeheartedly believe God can do anything He chooses to do in our lives!" Later, it asks the following questions: Do you sense there may be far more that God wants to do through your life than what you have been experiencing? Ask God to show you what it is, then be prepared to respond in faith and obedience to what He tells you.

These last couple days of experience and reading made me want to re-visit a question that Floyd McClung threw out for the new year, "What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?" If I'm honest, I don't often think, dream, and pray for BIG things. I too often articulate a faith in a BIG God while asking and expecting "normal things" to happen. I want to grow in this area, dreaming big dreams, praying big prayers, and trusting in a big God.

Lord I believe, but help me in my unbelief. If I could quote my dear and trusted brother from the Bay, "You feel me?"