I leaned up against the bed post and nestled in to reading position as I flipped the old, typed pages of a faded blue folder. These were weighty words – letters to my grandmother from friends and family shortly before she died. Some sent stories of college excursions and others talked about her hospitality. Nearly every entry spoke of her generosity and strong spirit. Many didn’t say it just like this, but when people looked at my grandma, they saw Jesus.
I didn’t mind getting weepy as I read about her nickname “Tillie the Toiler” in college and about her effortless way of putting others first. But it was toward the end of the simple, typed pages that my eye fell on an entry from my dad. At the top it read, “From Dick and Cindy Nichols, third child and his wife.” Though I’d been reading similar titles designating relationship to Grandma, this one shifted something inside and made her closer – more kindred.
I re-read the entry several times and my eyes fell on this sentence halfway through the last paragraph,
“I’m convinced that to live life to the fullest you must be able to face death confidently and with eternal assurance.”
Part of me felt my own convictions fall freshly into step with my dad’s, though I hadn’t ever heard him phrase it that way. I was seven when my grandma passed away, so my eyes were still inward and unable to see my dad’s pain and healing as he watched his mom wither and fade. But here, in these words, I found something beautiful like blooming Spring.
Though my flesh will fight it, my heart as a single woman is to serve the Lord and nothing else – but not as a regrettable sentence. I know with certainty both my supreme joy and greatest delight lie in this one passion. With eyes fixed on eternity, every moment of life has potential to be filled to abundance because Christ has overcome. This is all there is and somehow Grandma was able to keep it simple. With eternity figured out, she set about doing everything she could to bring the Kingdom to earth for those around her, knowing her reward was already stored up in forever communion with her Savior.
My dad shared a story about a pastor visiting Grandma in the hospital and saying, “It would be normal for you to ask God, ‘Why me?'” Grandma answered (predictably, according to my dad), “I have never asked God why – I never ask God why.”
When everyone expected her to cave… when everyone would readily excuse her for having little faith and a tired heart, Grandma kept her gaze steady on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of her faith. Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of God. With this kind of vision, Grandma understood that joy was possible to the very end, even when others expected her to run out. Christ filled her to overflowing every day she endured the painful decay of a mortal body. She knew she would sit down with her Savior soon and it gave her great joy to use every earthly moment sharing this blessed hope.
I’m not sure if it’s true, but my dad wrote,
“I don’t think you ever thought about death much; because of your faith there was never a need.”
She may not have thought about death much – the physical act of it with all the human details and baggage – but I know Grandma thought a lot about eternity. Her faith was not about escaping death. Her faith was about living.
She believed every moment could be lived abundantly on this side of heaven, spilling over into the lives of every person you touch.
She believed death was not the end, but the beginning of a life where her faith would be made sight and she would sit joyfully with Jesus.
These old, typed words on yellowed pages introduced me again to this woman and again to her Savior.
Oh, that I would live with this kind of faith.
let LOVE fly like cRaZy