My Pop was one of a kind. He and my Grandmom Hilde were amazing people and I credit them with leading me to Jesus and teaching me by example what it means to live a Christian life of love and service to others. People joke that Pop taught me to talk by pushing me around town in a stroller, wearing the wheels out and telling me everything about everything. He told me bible stories, explained the function of a fireplug and warned of the dangers of crossing the train tracks. He bought me junk food like sugary-coated cherry pies from Hostess, the kind in the waxed paper wrapper. I washed these down with cold Nesquik, gleefully shivering with sugary shock when done. Then he would produce the most awful, scratchy, brown paper towel from his pocket for me to clean my face with. As a high school janitor, he carried them everywhere, just in case.
One gift I never realized Pop had given me until I was much older was the gift of vision. He used to speak a prophetic word over my life and the lives of all his grandkids with regularity:
“You’re gonna BE somebody!”
This proclamation was spoken earnestly, with an intent look. He was eye to eye with the recipient, his hair wiry and wild. His unkempt index fingernail punctuating the tip of his finger, he would point it at me as he spoke this word. His words bored their way into my brain and heart and I believed him.
I never realized what a gift those words were until I got older and realized that having goals, dreams and a vision of my future was important. As I have grown into a 40-something adult and parent, I realize that sometimes the youth of today (and some adults too) are lacking in this area. As a high school teacher, I daily observe the uncertainty and apathy and that results from a lack of vision. Kids are obsessed with temporal things and don’t always seem eager to look ahead to the fantastic things the future may hold. More students than I am comfortable with accept failure, near-failure or mediocrity as no big deal. They express little urgency about forging ahead into a potential-filled future. They must not know the power and impact their lives can have. Maybe nobody has told them.
I encourage my own children by looking them in the eye and telling them Pop-style “God’s got a plan for your life. You are going to do mighty things”. I want them to know their lives are full of potential and that they are capable of much with His help.
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
I want them to know that their lives are blessed and ordained and that when their efforts and God’s guidance converge, lives of victory and purpose await. Fostering an expectant faith about the future is the prescription for the disease of no vision.
Of course having vision requires focus. My Grandmom Hilde, in every card she gave us, wrote this little inscription under the signature:
We came to know exactly what this verse was and could recite it by heart. In fact, it became my life verse. She cross-stitched verse 6 and framed it, displaying it in her home. I am blessed to have inherited this treasure.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
My grandparents knew and understood that faith in God’s plan was the key to a victorious life. However, their own life together had a string of heartbreaking struggles. They lost a son, my grandfather battled depression, and my grandmother had health problems with her heart, diabetes and serious arthritis. Though they had suffering in life, I also saw great joy. Songs of praise were a constant part of home and church life. Prayer and bible study were priorities for them. And ultimately, as they left this life to enter the next, I am sure the term Victorious Life was realized as they greeted their Savior. There’s no doubt they heard Him say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant(s).” (Matthew 25:21).
Oh Pop, I wish you knew how much I miss you. With such clarity, I remember lying on your bed, looking up at wood-paneled dormers, listening to you tell stories from the bible. I remember the story of the time your dad was so sick that he saw Heaven open up to receive him. You told those stories with tears in your eyes. You loved the Word of God and it made you who you were. Your love for Jesus was your defining accessory. Grandmom, your unwavering love and support, even at my brattiest and most rebellious, is not soon forgotten. I owe you both so much.
Fostering an expectant faith about the future is the prescription for the disease of no vision.
Lord help me to leave half the legacy that Grandmom and Pop left. Let my children remember me pointing them to Jesus. I pray the refrains in their ears of “God has a plan for your life” resonate in their hearts and that they seek Him, love Him and walk with Him all the days of their lives. Parents, speak life over your children. What you give them and do for them is of little consequence if you don’t remind them of what potential is within them. It is the investment that will yield the richest return.