By Andi Hines
One day, as God has predetermined, we all mark the end of our existence here. As a Christian woman, a Christian wife, mother, and even grandmother, what do we hope to leave behind when we’re gone? What will that time we were given say about our faith? What will the impact of our life be on our community, church, and especially, our family?
I visualize everyday life when I remember my mom, who was a stouthearted, religious woman. I think of how funny she was and about the recipes she passed on to me and my daughter. And I remember the smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for my little brother and me when we got off the bus. I especially think of her unwavering rule that Sunday was the Lord’s day — and we go to church.
Of all my childhood memories, however, thoughts surrounding my grandmother are the most prominent. She and I were especially close. As a young girl, I spent many years living with my grandparents. My younger brother had a chronic condition that often required medical care, leaving me to grow up with my grandparents. Those years with my grandmother influenced my goals, my values, and most importantly, my faith.
My grandmother was the model image of a 20th Century pioneer woman. She was a woman who could have crossed the plains with not much more than her fortitude. She was tough as nails, but she would do anything for anyone. First and foremost, however, she loved God, and then her grandchildren, with every ounce of her being. In all of life, whether exhaustion, stress about finances, or even illness, she had one constant, her faith. It was that example, that anchor, I took forward into my life.
One of her most primary examples to me was her devotional time. Every morning, as my grandfather and I sat at the table eating breakfast, she read that day’s Scripture. While her meal sat in front of her growing cold, she read aloud to us. I don’t think I ever saw her eat a warm breakfast because serving us with food and Scripture always came first. What poured out through her reading was clear and remains with me even to this day:
God is in charge. God is loving.
God is overall and to be honored, revered, but especially — to be known.
She read not with solemness, but with joy. The words she read were for comfort, hope, and fortifying strength. She was consistently a student of the Word of God and gave me the example of a ferocious desire to always understand more.
Finally, the impact of her prayer life on me out-shined all else. When I was a little girl, she taught me my very first prayer. Maybe you have spoken this prayer, too? It was written by Joseph Addison in the 1700’s and has a few versions. But, kneeling beside me on the floor each night, this was the prayer she taught me as a tiny little girl:
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray thee Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord, my soul to take.
Before the “Amen,” she spoke all the blessings and offerings of praise for God’s work in my life. She prayed for my family and anything that ailed them, but she especially prayed for me to understand and know Him. Then came the “Amen.”
In the New Testament, we find a similar story of the impact made by a grandmother and mother on a young man. His grandmothers’ name was Lois; his mothers’ was Eunice. We know this young man as Timothy, a disciple of Paul, who would become a great evangelist. We learn of Timothy’s religious heritage in Acts 16:1:
“Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek.”
We learn that Timothy’s mother, although having once practiced Jewish traditions, had, at some point, become a believer in Christ. Unfortunately, we also see that Timothy’s father was a Greek, who most likely neither believed in Christ nor the promise of a Messiah.
Although a Jewish mother was responsible for early training of the child, the Jewish father would be dedicated to the later training of his son in the ways of Jewish tradition. However, Timothy’s father would not have trained Timothy in any Jewish tradition. Timothy’s faith in God, which Paul notably refers to as genuine and first dwelling in Timothy’s grandmother and mother, would have come from the example given to him by these women.
I wonder about the prayers Eunice must have prayed for her son. Did they coincide with the prayers of his grandmother Lois? Did these women, who had made such a huge impact in the young man’s life, pray together for him? Did they pray his faith would grow? As they worked during the day, did they utter whispers to God that Timothy’s heart would be true to God’s Word? Did they ask, as they laid their weary head down at night, that Timothy would spread the word of God throughout their land? They never imagined the impact their prayers would have, not just on Timothy but on Christianity. For generations to come, all of those who experienced salvation in Jesus would read of the efforts of these two godly women and how they reared this young man up in the faith. Did they know that their prayers, which rushed from their heart to God’s ears, were their best, their very, very best witness of faith?
Everyday, we, too, are given time to make a difference in the life of another person. And I cannot think of a more profound and pleasant way than to offer up another in prayer with the hope they receive that genuine faith.
Paul had identified Lois and then Eunice as first having this genuine faith dwelling within them, and he commended them in this precious letter that they had imparted a beautiful gift to the one he would call “his son in the faith.” May the prayers we ask of God for those we love be as deliberate as theirs!
Father, Life can be so confusing. We love, and we suffer. We hope, and yet, sometimes we lose hope. We give and our well of love expands even when love does not return. Father, grant to us the compassion and love of Eunice and Lois. They were women who faithfully received their strength at Your feet and then continued on the path You had set for them in raising up a child to know You, believe in You, and love You. May our prayers bear holy fruit, giving light to our witness. We glorify You. Amen.