It’s not over until God says it’s over. Sometimes your last years can be your best years. For examples, I need not look any further than my great-grandmother, Minnie Duncan Gray (1896-1986), and her sister, Wylodine Duncan Alexander (1898-1998). The year I was born, Grandma turned 67 years old, and Aunt Willie turned 65. In my opinion, their greatest usefulness for Christ was in their senior years.
First of all, they knew Jesus, having both professed faith in Christ on the same night—September 19, 1913—during a “revival” meeting at Oak Grove A.M.E. Church in Florence, Alabama. All the time I knew them, they lived consistent Christian lives, and were the same people at home as they were in church on Sunday. I believe it was because of their faith that they were probably two of the wisest people—wise in terms of godly wisdom—that I’ve ever known.
Interestingly, they both had the spiritual gift of teaching—teaching the word of God. Aunt Willie taught the Bible both in her home, with friends, and at church, for the adult Sunday School class. Aunt Willie became involved in the start of a new church when she was 74. In this new church, she organized and taught the adult Sunday School class, organized and taught a Wednesday night Bible class, and organized and directed the choir (for which she drafted me as the musician at age 9), as well as served as church treasurer and one of the church trustees. When Aunt Willie left our church to become a part of this new church, Grandma stepped up to teach the adult Sunday School class at our church. Grandma taught this class for 11 years, “retiring” when she was 87. Over the years, countless people told me what a blessing Grandma and Aunt Willie were to them, both as Bible teachers and godly examples. Even during the last 3 years of her very long life, paralyzed and blind in the nursing home, Aunt Willie was a blessing to many as she demonstrated patient and cheerful endurance in the midst of her obvious physical suffering.
Most significant to me is that Aunt Willie and Grandma taught me the Bible. They taught me, not only by precept, but by their faithful examples, to believe, honor and obey the Bible as the very word of God. It’s no exaggeration to say that in my pre-adult years I learned more about the Bible from Aunt Willie and Grandma than I ever did at church, and my view of the Bible was shaped more by them than by the church or its preachers. And, these women prayed for me (in fact, near the end of her life, Aunt Willie told me she specifically prayed for me twice a day). I am convinced that I am saved today in answer to their prayers. And by God’s providence, it was through Aunt Willie, in 1980, that I received the gospel message which the Holy Spirit used to bring me to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
I was led to reflect on all this as I thought about all the Lord has done in and through me these past 33 years (He has brought me such a long way), and as I thought about what He may yet have in store for me and my family during this next chapter of life in Washington, D.C. As far as effectiveness for Christ, I believe Grandma and Aunt Willie’s last years were their best years. I pray that, in whatever time the Lord gives me, these next years would be the best years in my service for Christ.