This is my beautiful Grandma. We got to go visit her on Saturday. She lives three and a half hours away from us, and is no longer well enough to have us overnight, so we don't get up there very often. That fact made this trip all the sweeter.
Because of Grandma's health, we often have difficulty tracking her down. Her siblings live close to her and keep up with her, but if we are unable to find her at home, it is sometimes because she is in the hospital, sometimes in rehab, and sometimes simply unable to get to the phone. So I have become lazy in calling, lazy in sending cards (she can't see anyway). She NEVER complains about that, but I have been wishing for a way to simply honor her. It has reminded me of a time about fourteen years ago that I will never forget.
I was in Central Asia, winding up two years of teaching, and VERY ready to head home. But on my way, I was planning a detour to visit my brother and his family in a rather volatile part of west Africa where they had been living for several years. The way my mom reacted to this news let me know that she felt like I was heading into a black hole, never to return. She had been through so much with her world-traveling children. She just wanted me right back where she could have me safe and sound.
Around this time, I had a group of expat women gathered in my home for a Bible study one afternoon. As we shared prayer requests, I asked them to pray that God would provide me with a way to honor my mom. As if in a single chorus, their resounding response was, "Don't let her make you feel guilty!" And almost as quickly my response to them was, "I don't do guilt, I just want to honor my mom." We had a good conversation about it--it was so clear that many of them had dealt with the sense of having to choose between God's call on their lives and their own parents' wishes, and they were wounded by the seeming impossibility of living a life pleasing to their parents. But here's the cool thing: God answered that prayer just a few minutes after we had prayed. The phone rang, and it was my mom. (It was so expensive to call that we only talked about once a month, so it really seemed like no coincidence that she would call just then.) I took the time to chat with her for a few minutes while the others went on with the Bible study, and told her several things I was looking forward to us doing when I got home. Somehow, that seemed to melt down her defenses, and she also got excited. By the time I got off the phone, I knew I truly had honored her. I didn't change my plans, but God had granted my desire, and blessed my mom in the process.
Back to my Grandma. I confess I have been feeling a little guilty for not being a better granddaughter. I could do better. But when I really think about how to do that, I've been at a loss. So we have been praying for a time to go visit when she is at home and we are all healthy. Saturday was the day. A beautiful day! Grandma had purchased some flowers earlier in the week that she was determined to plant, and she had started in the morning. She didn't get far before she ran out of steam. There was much left to be done when we got there. As luck would have it, Bethany loves to plant flowers! Grandma's sister was there part of the time, and Lee worked on some tall and heavy tasks while we girls worked on the flowers. Grandma's sister was so thankful to have the extra hands, and when she said so, Bethany said, "Well we're just so glad we could help!" And once again I realized that God had given that precious opportunity to honor my Grandma.
The Lord tells us to honor our parents, and it pleases him when we do. But as adults, it is our responsibility to OBEY him, even if his will is in conflict with our parents' will. My prayer is that someone else might be encouraged by the fact that our great God will provide "everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:2-4). I have come to believe that even if it isn't possible to please both God and our elders, he will give us the way to honor them if we truly seek it.