Today s my grandmother’s birthday. If my math is correct, she would be 121 years old. Although she has been gone for almost 30 years, I still miss her every day. She was the closest thing I had to a mother figure and I knew she loved me unconditionally. When I was a lot smarter in my twenties and thirties, it annoyed me that she wanted to talk on the phone every day. Every other day would have been fine with me. Didn’t she know I was busy? But oh, how I would love to have those phone calls back (grandchildren, take note)! Oh, and why didn’t I get more photos of the two of us together?? I still remember the last time I saw her. She was in the hospital in Dallas and I flew down to see her. She knew, but I didn’t, that it would be our last time together. She kept saying, “I’m so tired, but I’m afraid to go to sleep because when I wake up I won’t see you again.” In my denial I thought, “Of course we will see each other again. You will get well and go home and I will come back to Dallas for a visit.” It didn’t hit me until I was on the airplane heading home that she was dying, and that she was right. That was our last visit. This story still brings tears to my eyes, and even though I have lots of grandchildren of my own, I still miss my Nenaw. But I know without a doubt that we will meet again in Heaven. She may be waiting at the gate for me even now!
I wonder what she would have thought about these Covid-19 quarantine days we are experiencing. It just occurred to me the other day that she lived through the infamous Spanish flu we keep hearing about. I don’t recall her ever mentioning that to me. She would have been in her late teens, and probably knew someone who died from that plague. She may even have contracted it herself.
She had a perpetual cheerful attitude and didn’t dwell on negative things, but she lived through some tough times. She endured two World Wars, sending both sons and a son-in-law (my dad) off to an unknown future. I think about what it must have been like back then with no 24-hour news. She didn’t have a television at that time so she must have relied on the radio and Movietone Newsreels if she went to the movies. Even though she didn’t know if her boys would come back, she put one foot in front of the other and kept going.
Isn’t that similar to what we are doing now? We don’t know where this virus will take us. There is so much uncertainty about what lies ahead. Our government officials as well as leaders in business, religion, and education are trying to make the wisest decisions they can. Some of us are wondering how we will do school in the fall while others are wondering if our jobs will still be here when the economy is opened. This virus has affected every area of our lives. But we put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
There is a hymn that is stuck in my head: In Times Like These, by Ruth Caye Jones. Ruth was a Pennsylvania pastor’s wife who was living through some tough times of her own. It was 1943, a World War was raging, and this mother of five, like everyone else, saw the casualty lists and tried to make do with rationed supplies at home. It was a time of great strain. One day she opened her Bible to 2 Timothy 3 and read these words
But understand this, that in the last days there will become times of great difficulty.
A song began to take shape in her mind, and we were left with these beautiful lyrics:
In times like these we need a Savior;
In times like these we need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
Although Ruth was inspired by the passage in 2 Timothy, she no doubt was familiar with another passage in Hebrews:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Heb. 6:19.
The entire world is living through difficult and uncertain times. In times like these I need a Savior. And that Savior’s name is Jesus. I know my soul is anchored in Him. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but when I close my earthly eyes for the last time, I know His face will be the next one I see…maybe followed by my grandmother.