As I searched through old pictures earlier in the week, (desperately trying to find my 8th grade class picture to scan and post on Facebook) I saw many pictures of my great-grandmother. I don't think of her often these days, though she was a profound influence on my life. Lena Bell Hays 11/09/1898 - 12/14/1976. I spent a lot of time with her until I was 9 when she had a major stroke, she lived the next 6 years in a nursing home.
She was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. She relished being a wife and mother. She loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with all her heart. I saw her pour out love on family, friends, and complete strangers. Her bank account was slim, but her faith was huge.
My great-grandparents sold their farm and moved to Whitney, Texas before my great-grandfather died. After he died, she sold the car and walked everywhere. (She never learned to drive.)We walked to the grocery store and post office. We stopped along the way to talk to people in their yards and on the street. I realized she knew almost everyone in town, knew their physical needs and spiritual needs but yet she never talked about people. I never heard her gossip. (Wish I lived my earlier years without the need to gossip!)I never heard her speak an unkind word until Dr. Martin Luther King, JR was murdered. I also remember she prayed civil rights would not be set back. It then dawned on me, she not only made meals for the people of her church and circle of friends, she sent meals to all people of every color she knew were in need. Sometimes they lived too far away for her to walk over with the meal and she would ask her daughter or son-in-law to drive her over or even her neighbor Mrs. Sally. (Mrs. Sally had a 1946, steel grey, Buick which she drove at an alarming rate of speed - 54 miles an hour city or highway...stop signs schmop signs was her motto. And besides, did one really need to see over the steering wheel???)
Lena wanted to live out the Bible in her every day life. She did not care about a person's color or religion. She was not afraid to embrace an African American woman on the street or hold their baby in 1965. She was not a missionary or pastor in a church but she pastored me in living out God's love and showed me the entire world is the mission field. She radiated God's love and joy though her life had been hard.
I hope when I die, I will be remembered for loving the Lord and serving Him not as a hypocrite. I want to live my life pouring out His love.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.