It was a walk I will always remember. My grandmother had just died and I was distraught about her death and my failure to be a witness to her. My grandma who I had never known to go to church and never speak openly of faith, died at age 91. It had always puzzled me, my dad’s side of the family. There could not be more loving, giving, caring people. Growing up I always wanted to ask my grandma about Jesus, but I never could find the courage. The only evidence I ever saw of a faith was a cheap plastic framed picture of Jesus that hung on my grandma’s wall in her small bedroom. I hadn’t been in that room for many years.
The last time I saw my grandma was in a hospital room. She was battling a blood clot in her lung and had an oxygen tube in her nose. At one moment she was with us. Then she would drift off for a minute and wake to say something a bit delusional that indicated for me that I only had one last chance to ask my grandma about Jesus. Did she love Jesus? She had just looked at my aunt and I and expressed her love for us all, so I thought this is my moment. I asked the question. “Grandma do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” She lifted her head and answered, “Jesus, is he the one who stole my purse?” My aunt looked at me mortified with an expression that said “what are you doing?” I left that hospital room humiliated and embarrassed. She died that night.
The next day God and I battled on a long walk. I remember the sky being particularly clear and beautiful, and I looked up and had a conversation with him in my mind. “I can’t do this. I am a shy person. It’s just who I am. I have prayed for her for years. You let me down. Now I will never know. Do not ask me to share my faith with anyone ever again!” Those were some of my rantings and accusations I threw at God on that walk. What I heard in return was “go into her room.” At the time I didn’t have a profound understanding that God had just spoken to me. Now that I look back, I know it was God because– I argued with him. “Oh no, a cheaply framed picture of Jesus on a bedroom wall does not mean you have given your life to Jesus.” “Go into her room” is what I heard. Would that picture hanging on her wall give me peace? I thought not!
A few days later after her funeral, I sat among a gathering of family and friends in my grandma’s living room. I thought maybe I would find comfort in looking at that picture on her wall, but I really doubted it. I was nervous when I asked if it would be ok to go in her room. I didn’t know why.
As I opened the door to her bedroom, my heart was pounding and I looked to the wall in front of me where I remember the picture being. My hope plummeted as I saw a mirror hanging where that picture had been. “See, it’s not even there,” I threw at God in my mind with contempt.
When I spun around to go back out the door, I froze. There it was, the picture I remembered. It was surrounded by three more pictures of Jesus in different settings. There were several crosses on the wall, bible verses stuck in the door frame, an angel pin I had once given her, dried palm leaves that her other grandchildren had brought her after Palm Sunday services, and statues of Jesus. I had to take a second look to make sure that it was not a tribute to Elvis. In that fleeting moment while I stood frozen, I know this sounds crazy, but I felt a flutter, and I know an angel stood behind me whispering in my ear, “Your grandma is fine. This is for you. Your grandma is fine.”
The moment was over when my dad barged in the room. I pointed at the wall and asked, “Why didn’t I know this?” He just laughed and said, “Oh, your grandma always loved Jesus.” I just smiled and took that picture and walked out of the room.
I have always wanted to tell this story even though it makes me sound crazy.
I may never have that kind of experience again, but it had a profound effect on my faith. God has such a sense of humor. I just know that he and my grandma are laughing and loving the moment when she told me that Jesus stole her purse! Believe!