“The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want (lack).
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters (waters of rest).
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the
presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
And I will dwell (return) in the house of the Lord Forever
(to the end of my days).” Psalm 23
This is the last passage of scripture I read with my grandmother before she passed. I find it very fitting that the next time I read it, right now, I am sitting in the chair she used to sit in to read her bible. Just let me take a moment to let that sink in.
My grandmother was a God-fearing woman, and by “God-fearing” I mean that her whole life was devoted to the spreading of the “good news” as she would call it. I sincerely cannot remember a time when I was with her where she didn’t open up her mouth and start talking about Jesus. She couldn’t walk very far in the physical, but she could run miles with Jesus. I never heard a song from her lips that didn’t talk about Jesus Christ. She was truly the only woman I knew who pushed her relationship with Jesus to it’s fullest extent. But I intend to change that.
See, my grandmother passed away on my 24th birthday. But I did not grieve in her passing.
I believe wholeheartedly that God spoke to me four days before her passing and two hours before I even knew she was in the hospital that she would die on my birthday. God was preparing my heart.
It was a friday morning and I was on my way to a location, because I had been acting in a local indie film at the time, when a thought entered my brain. It was as if God was asking me whether or not I’d be okay if my grandmother passed away on my birthday, that coming monday.
I thought immediately what my “public” reaction would be. What would I post on Facebook or Twitter? What would I say in my blog? What would be my 140 character summation of my grandmother’s passing?
At first it was: “Happy Birthday to me: I lost my grandmother today.”
Very sarcastic, very hurt.
But then I shook my head, or God shook it for me. In a matter of only a minute, my heart softened. I took a breath and my statement changed.
“Grandma stole my birthday present this year. It’s okay, I’ll let you have it this time. ;)”
Instead of seeing her passing as something that was taken away from me, God showed me that her passing was a gift, and my attitude is what I could contribute to her memory. And in that selfless view of my grandmother’s soul being lifted from earth and restored into the heavens, I began to understand the biggest lesson my grandmother could have ever taught me.
“The greatest gift you can ever give, is the selfless love that Jesus gave you.”
I gained a lot in that minute with God. But that was not my intention. My intention was to not selfishly hold onto my grandmother’s passing, but to see how her passing would be the greatest gift of her life, an eternity with the One who she made her whole life about. She would be dressed in Heaven’s finest clothes and would be singing in the heavenly choir she has always dreamed to sing in.
On the night before she died, the night before my birthday, I celebrated birthday dinner with my family. After dinner, I made a final trip to see my grandmother. Just my father and I.
Walking into the room, my father and I both sensed that death was near. All weekend our thoughts and emotions were in a jumble because we did not know if she was going to live or die. There were no signs pointing either direction. But once we walked in, we knew she didn’t have long. This confirmed in my heart the conversation that I had with God three days prior. Tomorrow my grandmother would die, and this was to be my last moment with her.
As I approached, for the first time all weekend my grandmother opened both eyes and made contact with mine on her own power. She began to smile with her eyes as I spoke comforting words to her. Led by the Spirit, my father and I sang songs, prayed and read scripture; Psalms 23 being the last. As I got to verse 6, with what little strength and voice she had, she began shouting,
“Praise Him, Praise Him. Amen. Hallelujah. Thank you Jesus.”
I was wrecked. She knew.
On her death bed, in pain and suffering, my grandmother was shouting the name of Jesus and praising Him for what He has done. There is no more a humbling moment I will ever experience in my life from now on.
Sadness did not exist in me, knowing that this was the last time I would see my grandmother on earth, but Joy filled my heart because I knew where she was headed. Not only that, but I could feel the Joy of Heaven fill the room and my heart.
This is how I will remember my grandmother; the one who brought Jesus into the room.
I swear I can feel her Joy from Heaven in my heart even now. And if I shed a tear in thought of her, I swear it is not sadness, but overwhelming love from her spirit to mine; like an overflow of Heaven poured down on me. I now have someone interceding for me in the throneroom of God. I thought about how weird that sounds.
In fact, I thought about not writing this.
I thought to keep my personal life separate from my public. But there is no such thing.
I made a promise to God a long time ago that I would live transparently, the same behind closed doors as I am in public. And that’s exactly what my grandmother was too.
Whether she was alone, or on stage, or with family my grandmother was the same because Jesus was always in the room, in her heart. And that was always her gift to others. Jesus.
So in honor of her memory and the spontaneous yet divine appointment God has created with me in this chair that belonged to that God-fearing woman, I give you what she would have given you, the truth: Jesus.
I believe in every word that I have written in this article and stand by it, whether divinely inspired or not. God wanted, at the very least, to say something to me alone. And if anything I have shared has spoken to you, then the ministry of my grandmother’s life continues on even after her time on earth.
And she is aware.
And she is talking to God about you right now.
And she is smiling.