Hi there. Got a minute? I’d like you to meet a few people. Well, more than a few, but just a small selection from my “impact” file.
I think about them pretty often, and I can draw direct lines from my habits, tendencies, reactions, traits, and accomplishments to theirs. These are the people who made me who I am and who continue to do so today.
1. My mom. I’d be proud to be half the woman she is. She taught me how to be a wife and mom and gave up everything to do so. Her life speaks strength, holiness, and unending faithfulness. But the words she has repeated to me most: “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” In definable moments. As clear as day.
2. My dad. At a very young age, I watched him get up early in the morning to read the Bible and pray. It took me years to see the value, but I believe it started there. My dad loves till it hurts, and I have seen him sacrifice “success” and “greatness” again and again to be a dad of six, a servant to the church, and a wholehearted follower of God.
3. My big brother. My desire to give generously comes from my big, younger brother. He showed me how even when he didn’t know I was watching. This guy loves deeply, and most people will never know it. It’s part of the reason he went against all odds and joined one of the most elite military operations in the world. He would say his faith is small, but I’ve seen differently.
4. My little brother. My blonde-headed baby brother is a man of passion. For the Word. For the lost. For truth. His resolve to live boldly and obey God completely has brought about great life-changing things for himself and others. He started that “most elite military operations” thing, and my faith grew when he passed that training with flying colors. I knew he knew how he got there.
5. Little sister #1. I learn much from this girl because we are opposites. She teaches me to relax and enjoy life. She helps me see what matters most. And when I’m stressed over deadlines or insufficient funds or weighty matters, I remember how she faces these things with such grace, humility, and sweet dependence on her Lord.
6. Little sister #2. How amazing that I grow in Christ through a sister eleven years my junior. The one who loves Hispanic people more than the American dream. The one who knows how to glorify God by being at peace. The one who lets the natural joy she has spill out without reservation.
7. Little sister #3. This girl taught me about miracles before she knew what was happening. And if her birth itself wasn’t enough, she reminds me almost every day that God is greater than statistics and that potentially impossible outcomes are worth the wait. This girl is a gift in more ways than I can count.
8. Grandpa. I don’t remember him well, but he was the picture of steadiness and support. He graced my life most by giving me my father and speaking love and confidence over our family.
9. Grandma. She doesn’t know it, but her precious, 96-year-old self has given me much perspective. Though dementia-ridden, her posture in prayer is astounding. In these trying, helpless years, her faith shines through. If it wasn’t there to begin with, I wouldn’t be seeing any evidence of it now.
10. Peepaw. Any practical, stubborn, no-non-sensical-ness in me is due this man because that is him through and through, and wow, am I grateful. Thanks to his genes, I’m annoyingly punctual, have any extreme eye for detail, prefer to sit around at home than go to the mall, and spend as little money as possible on frivolity.
11. Meemaw. I’ve always wanted to be like this woman, and I think I’m starting to see it. When I have opportunity to sit across from others and listen with a heart of compassion and understanding. When wisdom comes out of my mouth, and my default is something like, “God is in control.” Yeah, that’s when I’m like my Meemaw.
12. Nell Franks. This dear woman of God was my 6th grade Sunday School teacher. To this day, I remember her big Bible and that she prayed like no one else. At the age of 13, I watched her fight cancer, and when she went to live with Jesus, her heart was burned inside of me.
13. Chip Stam. Another terminal cancer journey my young eyes could witness, and it changed my life. For a man to live in such peace and joy and shout out the praises of God in the midst of suffering? It was more than I could comprehend, and I literally read his online journals again and again, teary eyes wide with amazement.
14. A dear Christian couple. Their insane generosity brought about my college education and set me on the course of patterning my life after those who live with an open hand and do so joyfully.
15. A college friend. I met her in the first class of my first day of college – my first true friend. And her path went one way, and my path went another. But I get to pour out my heart to her and watch her and her husband raise six little ones. And it is glorious.
16. Maurice Hinson. One of the greatest piano teachers of my time, and he was mine. For a man who could have taught anywhere and anyone in the world, to know that he chose to teach students of the gospel – and that he chose to teach me . . . And then to hear this man commend me for my decision to set aside a continued education and career in music for the purpose of family and church ministry. I was shocked.
17. A brother in Christ. He kindly journeyed with me through a long-distance relationship I will forever see as a success, for I learned that the Bible is treasure. And any “failed” relationship which teaches me that is worth it.
18. A roommate. For four years and counting, I get to live life with someone whose faith is bold and radical. Who faces her days through the power of Jesus and has joy abundant. If you knew some of her story, you’d know that doesn’t make sense. Which is precisely why I count it an honor to watch her life. Not to mention, we’re on year four in our deep trudge through the book of Isaiah, and it is a blast.
19. Chelsie. She didn’t know the Word, and then she did. And I watched it happen, and it literally took my breath away. To see the gospel at work in her might forever be the #1 most amazing thing I will ever witness in my entire life. She taught me a million other things, too, but in case I ever wondered . . . yes, Jesus saves.
20. Joni. My life is a product of childhood biography reading. Corrie ten Boom. Elisabeth Elliot. Darlene Diebler Rose. The list is endless. But one stands out for me, perhaps because I came to identify with her story in a way I never thought I would. I am the bosom friend Joni Eareckson Tada doesn’t know she has, for every word she speaks is like balm to my soul and healing to my wounds, carrying with it the potential for true, deep, and abiding joy in the midst of pain. I look forward to enjoying Jesus in heaven with her.
21. And you. My readers. Friends. Cousins. Conference & Sunday School girls. Pastors. Church family. Students. Counselees. Bible-study buddies. People I follow on Facebook who don’t really know me. Pretty much anyone who reads, knows, lives, and screams Book.
See, the crazy thing about all of these people is that they had the same Book.
Where else could they have learned these things? How else would they have known to live the way they did, to speak the things they spoke, to give as they gave? What was – is – their source?
The more I think about each of these precious souls, past and present, the more I get it – they all had the same Book.
By that Book were their blind eyes made to see. By that Book were their hearts and minds transformed. By that Book, they lived and breathed.
And by God’s grace, their Book-saturated lives continue to spill over into mine.
Any grace you see in me comes through these dear saints gone by, here now, and to come – simply because we all have the same Book.
[image credit: unsplash.com]