Friday, September 14, 2012

Grandma Speaks

Only a few weeks ago I was at the Michigan 400 Speedway with a quarter of a million fans.  I have to say, it was an experience of a life time!
 At one point a tight group of cars meshed together, catapulting Mark Martin's car down pit lane out of control.  It was headed directly towards an opening in the guard rail exposing all the crews.  My heart rushed to my throat as it seemed immanent death awaited.  And this was all happening right in front of us!  But the car caught the corner of the guard rail just in time which prevented the loss of any lives. Whew!  It might be entertainment on TV, but in real life, unnerving.
I tell you this story because I have to admit, I've been guilty of seeking the thrill of tragedy . . . watching Nascar for the excitement of the crashes.  But it reminds me of how sensationalism so often drives us. 

I've been reading Shadow of His Hand by Wendy Lawton to my girls and feeling like a total wimp.  It is the story of a Jewish girl's struggle through the Holocaust.  All of a sudden the trials in my life seem very pampered and insignificant.   

I wonder, how did women of past generations cope with the car crashes in their lives?  They didn't have social networking, cell phones, or even neighbors close by to share daily events with.  Their difficulties were not announced to the world as a sensation.

As I think of my Grandma Shetler I'm reminded of her divorce, a scandal in those days, and the whisperings she must have suffered behind neighborhood fences.  I'm reminded of the resolute determination she displayed in raising all 11 of her children as a single mom, training them to love and fear God . . . without drawing the attention inward.

I recently received a booklet composed by my Dad's four sisters of the songs their mother sang to them as children.  I feel so privileged to receive a copy and to be reminded of my Grandmother's testimony.  Simple, but powerful.  She lived a statement I've heard from my pastor, "The world does not need more of me, they need more of God."  If the hard things in life which I suffer are put on a pedestal and dramatized the focus suddenly shifts from God to me.

Look at me, see how hard my life is, look what I must go through, so often dominates the stage of our lives.

What message am I conveying to the watching world when they see me undergo difficulties?  Do I live as a person who has no hope, who has lost perspective, and who has an aloof God spinning out of control? 

Most of the songs in my Grandma's book are lullaby's for very young children.  We often deem children this age as unimportant. . . insignificant.  Yet my four aunt's remember those lullaby's.  My Grandma didn't spill her troubles to the world, she simply did what needed to be done   . . . point her children to Jesus.  Her trial paled compared to her purpose. This is not to diminish the difficulties we experience, nor to take away the pain.  It is only to place them in their proper place, in the background rather than the foreground.
(artwork by Lois Decker)
We each have a history of experiences which make up our story.  These experiences make us real and able to relate.  And when we respond correctly to them, it can cause great growth in our lives bringing glory to God.  But it can also be wasted on resistance or self glorification.

I have experienced very little pain compared to most, so who am I to speak of it?  But one thing I know with certainty.  God is in control, He does not abandon His own, He is forever good, He will see that justice is met, and our greatest joy is yet to come . . . eternity in the very presence of God . . . without a speck of evil. 

I was a young girl when my Grandma Shetler passed away.  It was the first funeral I ever remember experiencing.  I didn't know her very well, but her legacy of faith lives on, even in me, because she kept Jesus in the spotlight.   
Thank you for Grandma's Songs for Little Ones,  Aunts Lavern, Helen, Ruth, and Lois.  I will treasure it always.  And thanks to my Dad who led me into the kingdom of heaven by lifting high the name of Jesus. 

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