For my family, normal is living in foreign countries. We have been global workers for several decades and though I love and enjoy the life the Lord has given to me, there are times when living so far away from my family makes me wonder if this lifestyle is worth the sacrifice. Seldom am I home for birthdays, weddings, births, anniversaries, or funerals. Limited involvement with my family means reading about the celebrations and events weeks or months after they happen. Though I try not to feel too sorry for myself, there are times when I desperately wish I could be a part of those daily happenings of my family.
When the lonely feelings ambushed me, I would get my pictures out and tell my children stories of relatives they did not know. My children loved to hear stories of how, as a little girl, I spent summer days at my grandma’s house: the delicious Sunday dinners and the quiet times of just sitting on her front porch, drinking iced tea. As I related my stories to my children, my grandma lived again in my immediate life.
My grandma was always around when I was growing up. She cooked huge Sunday dinners, made special cookies for me and constantly reminded me that I was special not only to her, but also to God. I can vividly see her sitting on the porch in the early evening, watching the hummingbirds drink from the feeder she never forgot to fill. She told me once when I was helping her mix the sugar solution for the feeder, that hummingbirds were her touch stone to the God of the Universe–a God so big and magnificent but with such a delicate nature He created tiny birds that hummed. If He took the time to do this, she knew He would take the time to care for her, too.
The faithfulness she learned from her Creator, she passed on to her family. My grandmother prayed faithfully for me from my birth and many times during rough storms and lonely, fearful days, I was comforted, knowing she prayed for me specifically.
The day I told her I was going to be a global worker in the Holy Land was a day I will never forget. She couldn’t stop hugging me and kept saying, “Praise the Lord! What a wonderful blessing God has given to me!” Over the next many years, I seldom saw my grandma and my short visits home could never replace those long evenings on her front porch. Her letters over the years were a constant source of inspiration and love that I never tired of reading and rereading. Then, she died.
My mother called me to say she had died quietly in her sleep after a minor stroke. Her funeral would be in three days. I told my mom how sorry and sad I was and to give everyone my love. I, of course, would not be able to attend. Three days later, my mom phoned again telling me how lovely and special the ceremony had been, especially when a hummingbird alighted on her coffin, remaining throughout the graveside service. I thanked my mom for letting me know and, with a very angry heart, hung up the phone.
For the next two weeks, I threw myself major pity parties. I bitterly recalled each event and occasion I had missed over the past years “serving the Lord,” duly noting them to the Lord so He would realize how slighted I felt. A few weeks later as I looked through the mail, I saw an airmail letter and my heart stopped. It was from my grandmother.
Mail from the States sometimes takes a few weeks getting to us and this letter had been mailed the morning of my grandmother’s stroke. Looking at her familiar writing with thankfulness, I tore it open. She wrote about how much she missed my grandpa, who had died a few years earlier and that all she really wanted was to join him in “glory.” She was lonely and finding it more and more difficult to “drag her old bones out of bed each morning.” She ended her letter telling me how much she loved me and how she had felt so happy that morning as she prayed for me, knowing God had only wonderful things in store for me. Instead of her usual “God Bless and love you, Grandma” sign-off, she ended with, “See you in Glory, Bye, Grandma.”
I held her letter for a long time as tears streamed down my face. I may have missed her funeral, but I had just received a letter from heaven.
This article is a classic originally published in our early print magazines.