Mother’s Day is just a few days away. Rebecca Waters, my guest blogger for today, shares a beautiful testimony of the example her godly grandmother set for generations to come, a grace reflection of God’s forgiveness.
“God bless Mother’s children.” These were the final words Ophia heard her mother say. “God bless Mother’s children,” the young mother whispered. “Children,” she continued, “Love Jesus and do what is right.”
And that was it. Seven-year-old Ophia and her siblings were now orphans. Both parents had died within months of each other. Each had contracted tuberculosis. The disease was rampant in the early 1900’s. A cure was not to be found.
Although her father had planned for the care of his children and left behind a sizable estate to back it up, the children were left to fend for themselves. The uncle, hand picked by their father to care for them, instead sold their belongings, took their money, and badly mistreated them. At one point he even took Ophia into his home to work as a servant to his own children.
Ophia and her five brothers and sisters survived. Ophia married at age sixteen. She had seven children and lived a hard but productive life. Early in her forties, her uncle and his wife fell gravely ill. Ophia packed her things daily and carrying her youngest son on her hip, she walked several miles on the country roads to arrive each morning to care for the aging couple. She cooked and cleaned. She cared for their personal needs. Then she would pack up each day and return to cook and clean for her own large family.
“How can you do that?” her oldest daughter asked one day. “How can you go there and take care of them after all they did to you?”
“Honey, if I can’t forgive them, how can I expect Jesus to forgive me?” Ophia answered. “You got to do what is right.”
Ophia was my grandmother. Her only prayer in life was to live long enough to see her own children grown and on their own. She never wanted to see any of her babies left to fend for themselves as she and her siblings had done. God gives us more than we ask for. Grandma lived to be eighty-four years old. She lived to see her children grown, most of her grandchildren on their own, and several great- grandchildren living happy lives.
But when I think of my grandmother’s legacy, I remember this story of forgiveness, handed down to me over the years. My grandmother could have been bitter. She could have laughed at “justice served” to the frail people who had once been put in charge of her care. She chose to forgive. And in choosing that, she chose to share the power of Jesus on the cross to the generations that would follow.
I wonder what choices that I make today will influence my own children and grandchildren. I think about how I might have responded if I had been in the same situation as my grandmother. Isn’t our first thought often one of retaliation? Don’t we long to see those who wrong us suffer? But the Bible says,
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” Ephesians 4:32
After serving as a professor of teacher education for Cincinnati Christian university for over fourteen years, Rebecca Waters now serves God through her writing and speaking.Her first novel, Breathing on Her Own is scheduled for release in early 2014 and will be available on Amazon.com. You can follow Rebecca as she constructs her second novel by going to her blog, A Novel Creation, at https://rebeccaawaters.blogspot.com. For more information about engaging Rebecca as a speaker for your church or women’s group, her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.