I was raised in the Bible Belt in a town where many people claimed to be Christians. Some were genuine, but others were just trying to gain the respect and social status that acting like a “good Christian” would bring. My mother and father were the real thing; in fact, my Christian heritage went back to my grandparents and even great-grandparents.
My father’s mother often talked about how loving and unselfish my great-grandmother was. I never remember meeting her, but anyone in the family who mentioned her said the same thing: that she lived what she believed. She regularly told others about the reality of a relationship with Jesus Christ. When her husband would invite over a dozen people — unplanned — after church, she would gladly cook and clean for them.
She was always loving, serving, and giving.
Now with my father’s parents I saw with my own eyes the obvious reality of their faith. My grandfather worked with several of his brothers, and many of them mistreated him badly. Instead of holding on to anger and hatred, he showed them the kind of love that Jesus commanded when He said, “Love your enemies.” He forgave them and refused to take revenge on them when he had the opportunity.
My grandfather always took an interest in people in need and even helped them out whenever he could. When my uncle fell under the grip of alcoholism and my aunt developed serious health problems, my grandparents gladly intervened and acted as parents to my cousins. At my grandfather’s funeral, several of my cousins said that he was their real father — even more than their own biological father had been!
The picture above was taken at my grandfather’s 100th birthday. The one kissing him on the cheek is one of my cousins whom he gladly raised.
Grandad often sang hymns to worship God when he was spending time in prayer. He lived to be 101 years old and retained a very clear mind all the way to the end, dying in his sleep one night after suffering from pneumonia. The last words anyone heard from him were the verses of a hymn he was singing, worshiping God as he fell asleep!
Similarly, I saw my grandmother live out her faith demonstrating Christian love in practical ways. She was always growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, then unselfishly giving them away to her friends. She cooked for the extended family often, and whenever one of her friends would pass away she would cook an entire meal for their family after the funeral. She did this until she was 87, just a few months before she died.
Like my grandfather, I often heard her singing hymns as worship to God. My most vivid memory of her is when she was working around the house singing these words to an old hymn:
I love to tell the story, because I know it’s true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do!
I will never forget those words as long as I live, because I knew that she meant them with all her heart. The story, the Good News of Jesus Christ, really did satisfy her like nothing else in this world!
Later in my life when I was tempted to go after gay sexual pleasures, I could not escape the reality that only Jesus really satisfies.
My grandmother’s sincere words haunted me, and I just couldn’t dismiss them.
Did you have a relative or friend during your childhood who was so deeply committed to Jesus Christ that they influenced you to desire Jesus also?