On September 17th our family said “good-bye” to a wonderful woman. She was loved by her four kids and was cared for almost non-stop for her last six months on this earth by her oldest daughter, my mom. Growing up, I was never very close to Grandma, but that changed when my mom learned that Grandma was struggling living on her own in El Paso. In El Paso she lived at least a day’s drive away from her nearest child. My mom wasted no time getting on a plane to rescue Grandma.
Over the last three years she lived in Rapid City. Most of that time she lived in an independent living community. She loved dancing, singing, and playing cards. She ate well there too; at least, I always enjoyed visiting at lunchtime. It was a great community for her. After a couple of years, she started having trouble taking care of herself, so Mom and Dad invited her into their home. We learned before long that she was suffering from heart failure.
The following months were a struggle as Grandma dealt with a vicious cycle of infections until her body couldn’t handle it anymore. She was placed on home hospice care in July and Mom rose above and beyond to care for her slowly dying mother. During this time we were blessed to live in Rapid City during our transition. We enjoyed two months of seeing Grandma almost every day and she was able to spend quality time with her great grandsons. They love their GG! They loved tickling her feet and she loved when they did it! They loved getting kisses from GG and she loved giving them!
I remember when Grandma visited for my high school graduation. Our family got into a spiritual discussion and Grandma announced that she didn’t like to talk about religious things and that she was a good person. 18-year-old me would have never dreamed of getting involved in that discussion. I would have never argued with her about her being a good person, either. As far as I knew then and now, she was a great person. But Mom and Dad would have another chance to have those spiritual conversations with her.
One of my parents’ friends was visiting Grandma after she suffered a heart attack. He asked Grandma what was her favorite verse. I know my parents were anxiously waiting to hear Grandma’s response and they weren’t disappointed. She confidently responded, “1 John 1:9!”
Here’s why that’s a big deal:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he (our good God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Do you see what happened? At some point Grandma went from being sure of her status as a good person, to recognizing that Jesus wouldn’t have come if being a good person was enough! He came to cleanse us from our unrighteousness. She couldn’t have picked a better favorite verse to illustrate the transformation God had accomplished in her life.
This is the same thing he does in our lives when we give him leadership over our life. When we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Even though we may be a great person, we will someday stand in the presence of a pure and perfect God, and he wants to make us pure and perfect as well.
Hopefully my grandma’s story resounds with you. It has and will continue to resound with me for all of my life.