Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)
- TITLE: A More Excellent Way
By Marlene Bonney
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“I have something to tell you—something wonderful has happened!” she exclaims.
. . .
She hasn’t had an easy life, my grandmother. Born to a severely religious, austere father and an equally submissive mother in 1900, her soaring spirit had to be stuffed down deep. She learned to hide her rebellion from her family in a prison of surface obedience.
At age 18, Grandma Lydia met and married a “man about town” who was ten years her senior. Five years and three children later, Howard became heavily influenced by a devout Christian. Before long, he became a Christian himself, putting all his energy into Bible study and teaching. Lydia, befriended by a profoundly spiritual lady of their church, had embraced Christianity two years previous.
Howard became an insightful and highly respected Bible scholar, also teaching an adult Sunday School class. However, at home he was “so heavenly minded as to be of no earthly good.” Taciturn and a loner by nature, he gave little attention to his family and spent the hours remaining after his job on the railroad studying Scripture and in prayer.
Lydia, left to her own devices, involved herself in the role of homemaker and mother and in ladies church activities. She consistently sought a deeper relationship with her Lord, and struggled over the years to become holy, seeking the church altar more times than not. She viewed speaking in tongues as the epitome of spirituality and holiness, and was disappointed that she had not received this empowerment.
By the time I came along, Lydia was a doting grandma, especially enjoying playing with her grandbabies, frolicking on the floor with them and laughing heartily at their antics. Always young at heart, she loved to be with young people, not liking events planned for her own age group. As I grew older, I also perceived her knack for seeing through society’s inconsistencies and observed her standing up for her convictions in the face of criticism for daring to question meaningless traditions.
. . .
‘I wonder what’s going on with her now,’ I muse as I wait at a traffic light. Now in her late eighties, Gramma is widowed and living alone with increasing difficulty. Cataracts, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease and other challenges associated with old age have plagued her, and family members are watching out for her.
I pull into her driveway and notice how dilapidated the house and yard have become and remember how pristinely groomed the lawn and flowerbeds used to be. Tall, colorful irises and lilac bushes once thrived in the backyard, but are now replaced by tall weeds and a sea of dandelions. The house front has several places in disrepair and patio curtains, once bright and crisp, are now sun-faded and limp. The only upside to it all is that Gramma’s vision doesn’t allow her to see it the way it is.
As I unlock the front door, I take a deep, cleansing breath before entering, never knowing what state of mind I will encounter.
“I’m here, Gramma,” I say brightly, noting she is still in her robe and slippers relaxing on the outdated divan.
“Oh, honey, I just have to show you,” she begins, and then her shoulders droop as she momentarily loses her train of thought. “Oh, yes, NOW I remember! God spoke to me last night!”
“I was having trouble sleeping and I was crying and asking God why I can’t speak in tongues. And all of a sudden, I heard His voice, as plain as day!”
“Wow,” I say, impressed but wondering if she was about to babble in a different language.
“Look! I got up and wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it.”
I take the tattered slip of paper from her hand, and in her familiar shaky script are these words:
‘Because you are seeking the gift instead of the Giver’.
. . .
Gramma Lydia is with the Lord now and I am the keeper of her yellowed paper message from God. A legacy from her, the words are now painted on my heart. I recall them whenever I begin to wish I had someone else’s spiritual gift instead of the ones God has seen fit to give me, and then delve into the Bible, seeking Him. And then I receive the greatest gift of all—LOVE.
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