We were involved with activities that postponed our typical weekend update. On Saturday we attended our friend Sank’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. It was a real treat to be invited to share in this special event. It was touching to see how proud Sank and his wife were on their daughter’s accomplishments as she read from the Torah scrolls to the congregation. She did a beautiful job and it should be noted that she honored her parents with her hard work leading up to her special day on Saturday.
The weekend was capped with a beautiful memorial service for my grandmother at the Arboretum in Brainerd, Minnesota. This truly was a weekend where God brought home the message of the 5th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother as the Lord your God commands you that your life may be long and it may go well for you in the place he gives to you.”
Jesus refers to this command 5 times and Paul reminds us in Eph 6 that this is the first command with a promise. Whatever our circumstances, it was important to remember that God’s word does not vary, it does not change. God’s word is not subject to circumstances or impressions or anything else. My friend Sank reminded me that the book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls had not changed from that time to the present even though his word was hand written throughout the generations. God has preserved his word. I was aware of the facts around this, but recalling this was important as my family gathered to celebrate the life of my grandma.
After the memorial celebration and luncheon, I had the honor to speak at the cemetery as we dug a hole and placed her cremains next to her grandson [my cousin]. Throughout the day, I heard many stories of my grandma that were shared by those in attendance. The bottom line is that grandma took seriously the new command that the Lord gives to us in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” There was ample evidence that she lived in a way that so many recognized Christ’s love was in her; she lavished it on so many.
The significance of her obedience to this command is magnified when you understand some things about her:
- She was 14 when her father died of TB at age 36.
- She was 20 when her mother died of cancer.
- Grandma lived with her sister in a rented room in high school before she married my grandfather and she worked making $5/week.
- When she married grandpa, they had to move around a lot as grandpa looked for work during the depression.
- Grandma and her sister lived together with 4 children when their husbands were called into service for WW2.
The point is, grandma became a very loving person regardless of her circumstances. How she responded to her circumstances gives us 6 lessons to remember as we obey God and honor her life.
- We don’t have to live in bondage to the circumstances of life or the wounds inflicted upon us through the sins and failure of others. John Chapter 8 verse 31-32 “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” v36 “if the son shall make you free, then you shall be free indeed.”
- God specializes in healing the worst of our broken lives through Jesus. He heals our hearts and our condition from within. 2 Cor 5:14-17 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way (by our flesh). Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
- Living for Christ is not an exception from adversity. Grandma did not let her circumstances provide an excuse for ignoring God’s provision. Having been entrusted with the secret things of God, how we handle the truth has big implications. 1 Cor 4:1-2 “So then men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
- The prayer of a righteous woman is a powerful weapon. Grandma’s prayer was that her family would be close to each other. James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”Eph 6:10-13,18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand agains the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand firm.”
- Put God first and leave the rest to him. In her last years, grandma responded to the Holy Spirit by actively participating with her church family. Matt 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things [the necessities of life] will be given to you.”
- The greatest gift that a mother can give is the assurance of where she is when she dies. Here is one of grandma’s favorite Psalms. We took comfort in the assurance that she is with the Lord as we held hands and read Psalm 121 together out loud.
- We lift up our eyes to the mountains – where does our help come from?
- Our help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
- He will not let our feet slip – he who watches over us will not slumber;
- indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
- The LORD watches over us – the LORD is our shade at our right hand;
- the sun will not harm us by day, nor the moon by night.
- The LORD will keep us from all harm – he will watch over our lives;
- the LORD will watch over our coming and going – both now and forevermore.