When you live in what’s so appropriately named, “The Boonies,” you’re considered fortunate if you can pick up more than about ten channels at any time without the assistance of a giant dish on the side of your house.
This being said, my Granny is fortunate.
But only in the living room.
Whenever we stay over, Mama and I struggle to pick up anything on the ancient television in the back room where we sleep. The pink carpet and pink sponge-painted walls match the age of the T.V. which basically just eats VCR tapes at this point.
But it’s Granny’s and that’s how we like it.
Granny is fortunate because she can pick up a handful of channels in the living room, enough to entertain us from time to time, but mostly Granny is fortunate because she remembers to live that way.
In 1932 Nola Mae was born to parents Willis and Lucy Channel. She was the third of ten kids, and while her early life was spent on the farm with her siblings, it was also spent in church.
Nola Mae accepted Christ into her heart as Lord and Savior at a revival when she was 13 years old, and was promptly baptized in the spring behind the church. She was a member there until she moved to Atlanta in ’51.
Not everything in her life went according to plan, not even her marriage. She knew Navy Sailor Charles Ennis MM3 less than a year before they were married, and my Pa wasn’t a Christian at the time.
“I knew better. I knew all that stuff about being unequally yoked, but he was the one. There was just something about him. He would never say that I couldn’t go to church, he just never went with me.”
One of the programs Mama and I were able to pick up once on the little T.V. in the back room was a small town preacher, telling a story of a girl in his youth group. He spoke of how she had the heart of a servant, and how she was evangelizing everywhere she went.
Then she turned 17, and was in an accident on her way to school that morning.
From the accident, she had to have her leg amputated to avoid a deadly infection. When the pastor went to visit the girl in the hospital, her spirits were low, but she still spoke of telling everyone in the hospital about Jesus. He quoted her saying, “Yeah, my leg is gone and that sucks, but look how much I’ve got left that the Lord can use!”
When tragedy strikes, do we keep our eyes on what we’ve lost, or is our mindset more of, ‘Look how much I’ve got left?’
Usually, it isn’t the latter.
Pa eventually became a Christian alongside Granny in 1967, and was baptized alongside two of his children later that year.
When Pa died of cancer in early 2004, it left a hole in the family, an empty blue recliner in the living room, and a Walmart vest moved to hang in the back of the closet.
Maybe it was because it was my first close exposure to death (although certainly not the last) but afterwards I noticed the way that people spoke about dying and death, and how much it varied from the way I heard Granny talk about it.
They skirted around it, called it “passing on” or “leaving this world.” But Granny always spoke of it as going to see God, and as weird as that used to be to me, I find it inspiring.
Because you see, my Granny isn’t afraid of dying. And it once made us all so uncomfortable, the ease of which she spoke about it. It was as if she were making plans for dinner rather than which side of Zeta cemetery she wanted to be buried on.
No, Granny has never been afraid of dying.
And as strange as it may sound, I find that so incredibly admirable.
She knows what happens next. In a life that has so many twists and turns and bumps up and down the road, she knows what her future holds.
Jesus is waiting at the other end of this life, with open arms and a proud heart because my Granny is the epitome of a servant.
She shows her love for others best by displays of kindness and acts of servanthood.
When I was younger I didn’t understand her love. I thought her lack of desire for quality time and avoidance of loving physical touch meant that she could care less about me.
Truthfully I took those years for granted, because I did everything in my power to avoid visiting her town.
Extra homework? Sure, I’ll accept it.
Need me to work this weekend? I would love to pick up an extra shift.
Side note here to say if you’ve never read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman then you should. It’s brought so much enlightenment about relationships in my life, and how to love people the way that they desire it, not necessarily the way I desire to show it.
I had mastered the skill of pushing her away, because she didn’t show love the way I desired it.
I’ve found that I do the same thing in my relationship with Christ.
Christ is showing me eternal love and grace and forgiveness every single day, but it isn’t always how I want to receive it.
Sometimes I struggle to hear his voice because He isn’t giving me the answer I want to hear. It’s so easy to turn from what’s right because it isn’t what you want-what you think is best for you.
When the hard times hurt a little too much, and the thinking of this world seeps into our hearts, remember that it won’t last forever.
I’ve learned there’s a lot of time and words we waste when we don’t take the time to say what’s really on our minds and in our hearts and it’s like Granny always says,
“Waste not, want not.”
Don’t waste your life.
But don’t waste your pain either, because God uses everything.
You’ve got so much left to use for the Lord.
HEBREWS 6:19 SAYS,
“We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul. A HOPE both sure, and steadfast.”