The One Thing God Told My Grandma

Wilma this past Christmas 2018

Wilma this past Christmas 2018

Wilma Malone was born in 1921. She will celebrate her 98th birthday tomorrow. She is a mother to two children, a grandmother to four and a great grandmother to nine.  While this sounds like the beginning to an obituary, it is not. Wilma is a story of life and the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us. 

Wilma, or Grandma as I call her, lives by herself in a small Missouri town more than one hundred miles from St. Louis.  She stills works at a caring center thrift store down the street from her home. She retired from JCPenney’s decades ago but has never stopped working. Not because she has to, but because she wants to be useful and help others.

Growing up my family and I would visit her and my grandfather, Herman, at a farm they once owned.  Some of my fondest memories are waking up at the farm on my childhood Christmas mornings and sitting in front of what I remember as a grand fireplace. We would all take turns opening gifts and I would stack a pile of action figures a tall as I was against said fireplace.

Wilma’s husband was a hard worker too. I was once told he was part of a team at Sears that invented a machine that makes the molds for taco salad shells.  This is one of our family’s largest claims of fame, even though it has proved to be entirely profitless.

The farm was the last great work of my grandfather -- who also retired from Sears and from a maintenance position at a local school. The farm had cattle. I have no idea how many. I wish I had learned more about the process behind their farm and my grandfather’s life, but as a child I was uninterested in the things he was doing or what he could teach me. I am desperate and eager to learn those things now, but sadly won’t be able to hear it from him. He died of cancer in the early 2000s.

Wilma on the other hand is here. 700 days from living to 100. Her longevity has been an inspiration to me. She was for a long time the only person in my family who openly talked about their relationship with Jesus and participated regularly in church activities even when her family did not.

Herman didn’t ever go to church with Wilma, but instead found Christ near the end as death approached. Wilma had gone every Sunday since she could remember. She has always loved the Lord. Her faith and willingness to pray for others is one of the reasons I believe I am saved today.

Soon after I was born again, I drove to visit my grandmother. She was one of the only Christians I knew and I wanted to learn more about Jesus and what my future looked like through her. I sat on her couch usually reserved for napping and asked her questions about many things regarding Christianity. I also asked her about her personal relationship with Jesus. Eventually landing on the question, “Have you ever heard from God?”

She told me, “I can only remember one time I knew God was talking to me. He said that my entire family would know the Lord.” This seemed to be in direct opposition to what seemed to be true.  Simply said, my family rarely or never talked about faith in Christ. Nonetheless were we all in a committed relationship with Jesus as our Lord and savior. To go further, when she heard God tell her these things I was still a child who would later grow up to become an addict and the most unlikely candidate to know the Lord.

But God.

My grandma told me she held onto that word God gave her whole life. She believed and gave thanks to God for saving her family even when it looked unlikely to happen.  Grandpa, the person she prayed for most, wasn’t saved early in their marriage but found Christ as Lord weeks prior to his passing. I was saved at 29 years old. My mom was baptized soon after. The word of the Lord my grandma heard decades earlier seemed to now be paying dividends. While I can’t speak for the faith of anyone else in my family directly, I believe if they aren’t saved already they soon will be.

Grandma has been praying for us. Her life has been blessed with long life and mobility long past the age of average. Her faith has lifted up so many and is still being used today to inspire hope in Christ in my life. She is special to God just like each of us, but she had the desire to seek that relationship with Jesus for herself. You can do the same.

You can have access to God’s promises and answered prayers. You can hear God speak to you. You can have hope in unlikely situations. You can have certainty in your eternal future. You can, but don’t wait because not all of us will live to be 98 years old.

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