Beginning life in the church where her dad was the organist/choir director made for solid footing for little Grace. But life can change quickly as everyone knows.
Grace’s dad passed away when she was 12 years old, leaving behind not only Grace, but her two sisters, ages 5 and 14 at the time, in addition to their mother. In the next few years, additional deaths followed including the passing of her beloved grandfather, grandmother, and other close relatives.
How does a little girl grieve with all these losses? Grace’s mom was the stronghold of the family, until her untimely death only 5 years later. When Grace was 17, she and her siblings became orphans.
Grace and her sisters lost way too many family members and dearly loved ones in too short a span at too young an age.
By this time, Grace’s older sister was married and out on her own. An aunt and uncle moved in to the family’s home to help with the other two. This arrangement was short-lived as elder sister and her husband moved in. They persevered, leaning on each other for strength and security. Feelings came in waves: the sorrow, the anger, and the memories. But they did not allow themselves much time to dwell on their losses and their loneliness. It was not an easy life and things were not always rosy – three young sisters living together under those circumstances. They struggled. But Grace and her sisters were survivors. They had no choice. Grace remembered her mom’s last words, “Take care of your little sister.” And she did as best as she was able. Grace’s part-time job paychecks went towards clothes and other essentials for her younger sister. Little girls grew up before their time.
Two weeks after high school graduation, Grace married her high school sweetheart. Several years and three children later, they divorced. And after three years as a young single mom, she met and married Chuck. That was 32 years ago.
Grace continued to struggle inwardly, to replace somehow what she had lost at too young an age. Grace’s older sister was a born evangelist! She took it upon herself to convert Grace from her godless life to a life filled with Christ. She would “preach” Christ to Grace for hours on end during various and frequent phone calls. Grace, being respectful of her sister, would patiently listen. At some point, she was encouraged to listen to Christian radio, which she did.
For 15 years, Grace’s sister spoke into her life. The radio confirmed and reinforced what Grace had been hearing. Pretty soon, certain radio preachers began to speak into her life. Some of her favorites were Chuck Swindoll, James McArthur, and Charles Stanley. There was a common thread through the various preachers: The Gospel: “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
One day, the day Jesus picked to intervene in her life, Grace knew. She knew it was time and she knelt down by her bed. As she wept, she confessed every sin she could think of going back through her entire life, into her childhood. When she was finished, Grace asked Jesus into her heart.
She was Born Again.
Grace called her sister and shared the Good News. Being obviously elated, Grace’s sister and her husband came over to visit with Grace and Chuck. They suggested the couple might consider attending Bible Study Fellowship for some in-depth Bible Study, which they did. For years! They eventually settled in to a solid church and proceeded to bring their grandchildren with them for the next 15 years!
Life for anyone is never smooth sailing from beginning to end, and in Grace’s case it’s all too true. There have been life’s ups and downs, sicknesses and losses. Just barely four years ago, her son – in his mid-forties, died of a heart attack without any previous warning. Understandably, Grace was devastated! There is not one day, NOT ONE DAY that Grace does not think of and mourn her son’s loss. But Grace is grounded. She is steadfast in her belief in Christ and her anchor is in Him.
In her grief, Grace went to the Lord. She was comforted by His presence and His words in scripture:
“A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
One thing Charles Stanley preached so many years ago that Grace never forgot was that “God doesn’t have grandchildren, only children.” Having a grandfather who was a pastor and a dad involved in church did not secure her salvation. Although Grace was fatherless and motherless at too young an age, she knows Her Father is not only in Heaven but walks beside her every moment of every day.
She is blessed!
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His Holy Dwelling.” Psalm 68:5