Monday, January 01, 2007

"He's never failed me yet"

I'm hopelessly sentimental. I could reminisce all day long. One of the joys of this past Thanksgiving Day was that we had my sister, Maere, as our guest. It had been such a long time since we had spent any time together, and so we spent a lot of time on Thanksgiving Day talking about things "back in the day". My son commented to his mom that he hadn't heard me talk that much to anyone besides his mom. He said I seemed to enjoy having his aunt over. Well, I did!

Often, my mind reflects back on past memories—good and bad. One thing I often think about is my "parents", who were actually my great-grandparents. "Pa Bill" and "Grandma" have been deceased 17 and 20 years, respectively. There are so many things I wish I could talk to them about now, so many questions that I would ask that never occurred to me to ask when I was younger. Mostly, I would love to be able to thank them and tell them I love them.

Since my mother was but a young teen when I was born, I was placed in foster care. When I was 2-months old, my maternal grandfather, "Daddy", took me out of the foster home I was in, brought me "home" to North Chicago, and gave me over to his mother and step-father to raise. I never left their home. I stayed with Grandma and Pa Bill until they died, and I can look back and say God richly blessed me through them.

In this day of single-parent households, I am grateful I had a two-parent upbringing. Growing up, I knew I was loved, and I never wanted for anything that I really needed. I had lived out before me a truly good example of what marriage and marital commitment is about. Pa Bill modeled what it takes to be a respectable and responsible man and Grandma was the epitome of a mother, as well as a fount of wisdom and common sense (or "plain ol' horse sense", as she called it). I strongly believe that I was spared many of the pitfalls that I see young people today fall into because of the grace of God in giving me a stable, two-parent household in which to grow up.

I am grateful that I grew up in a home where education was valued. My great-grandparents didn't have much of an education. They both grew up on small family farms in rural Alabama and migrated to northeastern Illinois in the 1920s in pursuit of a better life (which meant factory labor or custodial and domestic work). Grandma went no further than 8th grade while Pa Bill only made it to the 6th grade (and the way things were for Black children in the rural south of those days, they were probably about 18-20 years old by that time). They didn't have a lot of "book knowledge"—Pa Bill could barely read—but they knew education was important. They wanted me to take advantage of the educational opportunities they never had. Going to college was always a "given" for me. Pa Bill said, "I want you to get your education so you don't have to clean toilets and scrub floors, like I had to." One of the proudest moments of my life was when I graduated from college. I had stayed an extra year to earn my Masters degree. Pa Bill was there to witness the event. Grandma's health was failing rapidly by that time, so she wasn't able to be there in person, but when I got home the first thing I did was show her my diploma cover to let her know, "I did it!". Grandma died less than 3 months later but, thank God, both she and Pa Bill lived to see me get my education.

I'm also grateful that I grew up in a Christian home. This Christian home included my great-grandmother's widowed sister, "Aint Willie", who lived next door. Now, Grandma, Pa Bill and Aunt Willie didn't know theology like you out there in the Reformed Christian blogosphere. They didn't know what a Calvinist or an Arminian were. I'm pretty sure they never heard the expression, "Doctrines of Grace", and the only T.U.L.I.P. they knew was a flower. But, they did know, "Ye must be born again". They knew that Jesus Christ was the only way to God. They knew the Bible was right and that anything that disagreed with the Bible was wrong. And they knew that God hears and answers prayer. It was through my household of origin, through the prayers and example of Grandma, Pa Bill and Aunt Willie, that I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

At the start of another year, as I think about where the Lord has brought me from, my heart is filled with gratitude. Like the Black gospel song says, "You don't know what He's done for me...", and I can't tell it all, either! Suffice it to say, God has been good! As the old folks would say: "He's been better to me than I've been to myself!" That's why I must praise Him and continue to "press on toward the goal". The words of another old Black gospel song come to mind:

"We've come this far by faith leaning on the Lord; Trusting in His holy Word, He's never failed me yet." (Albert A. Goodson)


I look forward to what God has in store in 2007, and pray that, according to His grace, I may grow closer, stronger and deeper in Him.

May God grant you the same.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I am so glad that your experience in foster care was brief, and that you were placed with family!

Happy New Year!