We sat at her kitchen table and listened as she told us about the old days. She talked about life on their farm as an immigrant family from Germany. She explained how they trekked for miles to go to Sunday service at their church and then stayed in town, visiting with others, making it an all-day affair before traveling back home again. She told us what it was like as a German-American during World War II and walked us through the family tree.
My mom had said we should listen to my great-grandmother’s stories now, while she was still there to tell them. So, we did. Then she died when I was a teenager and the opportunity to listen was gone.
If you read this blog even on the weekends, you’ll know I finished up 2011 by reading Billy Graham’s book, Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well. It was a little like the day that we sat and listened to my great-grandmother tell stories. That day, we had really listened to her talk about life. By reading his book, I did the same for Billy Graham.
I’m not really a resolution-lover or a diet-plan designer or a prediction-maker. But I am thinking this new year of restating priorities. Of taking some of what Billy Graham had to say and letting it influence and guide me right from the start of this year.
It’s about making people the priority.
Billy Graham was thinking of connecting with grandkids. But really, these principles could guide all our relationships: with our kids, our spouses, our parents, our siblings, our friends and Bible study cohorts, the folks in our Sunday School class, our neighbors, and more.
We pray specifically and routinely for those we see every day and those who live too far way for frequent visits.
He said, “Don’t pray only in general terms (the kind of prayer that vaguely asks God to bless them.) Make your prayers specific, and make them daily” (p. 98).
This is why I love my Thursday mornings with my Moms in Prayer group. We pray for the math tests and the homework, the activities and playground witness of each of our kids. Every week, we thank God for the very specific and identifiable ways He has answered our prayer and every week we are amazed at how He once again faithfully took care of these little ones we love.
So, what to pray? I like to pray through Stormie O’Martian’s Power of a Praying Parent (or Power of a Praying Wife when I pray for my husband). Yet, you can simply pray not just for physical safety, but for good decisions, for a strong Christian witness, for the growth of their faith, for their ability to withstand temptation and peer pressure, for their friendships, and for whatever specific difficulties they are facing.
Billy Graham wrote, “Don’t major in the negatives! They need to know we love them and most of all that God loves them (p. 100). This year, I want to choose my words carefully and thoughtfully so that I can “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Be an Example
Avoid “do what I say, not what I do!” If I want my daughters to learn to have personal devotions, then I let them see me sit at the kitchen table with my Bible and cup of tea. If I want them to be kind, I practice kindness.
Billy Graham said “Remember, your children and grandchildren learn more about you through observing your actions and attitudes. Do they see Christ in you? Will they remember you as someone who was a living example of His compassion and love? (p. 100).
We tend to give when it’s convenient. We often make decisions based on what’s practical. We give what we can afford. We get together when we’re “free.”
But Jesus served others when it was inconvenient and impractical. He skipped meals, changed plans, took the long way around, gave up time away for those who needed Him and died to save them. He didn’t stay up on the cross for the sake of a theology or a plan. He did it for love of people.
My husband said, “often what is important isn’t what’s practical” in our relationships with others.
So, this year I want to major on the important, even if it’s impractical, hard, or downright crazy.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.