It was early, around 5:30 a.m., on a Saturday morning in November of 1962. I was sound asleep and I heard the telephone ring. My dad answered it, and in a few moments I heard my mother hysterically crying. It was frightening, because I had never experienced either one of my parents crying.
My granddad had heard my grandmother make a funny sound that morning in bed before they awoke, and then her life expired unexpectedly. Papa Corder was an elder in the oldest congregation in Tennessee and a godly man. My grandmother was the most compassionate, kind, and faithful Christian that anyone in Lincoln County knew. As I grew up, I never heard one single criticism made about my grandmother and everyone that knew her considered her their best friend, aunt, and person.
I can remember staying with my Mama Corder, and feel the love that she was known for. She grew up a Baptist, but learned the truth, obeyed the gospel, and converted her parents to the Lord. She was only 62 and died peacefully in her sleep. I always wondered how God could let a person with her influence and faith die so young, but now that I’m 52, I realize she received her reward early and left a lasting legacy to my parents and brothers. She had a reputation for being godly in every sense. Everybody in her family and community respected her because of her kind, considerate, and caring attitude.
Her legacy with me comes in several forms, but one principle has stuck with me all of my life by her example. It is found in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NASB), “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” I have often pictured the passage in Hebrews 12:1 (NASB), “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” I imagine an amphitheatre with her and all the other heroes of the past, not as spectators, but inspiring examples, who had the faith required, and made it to heaven by the grace of God.
Jesus left us the greatest example of faith, but my grandmother and mother have been the living examples in my life that have provided the motivation and desire to serve God. This is just like Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5 (NASB) when Paul told him, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
I’ve had so many blessings in my life, but the biggest have been the spiritual influences. I need to continually be mindful of that as I deal with people on a day-to-day basis. Our influence could be a tool that saves someone’s soul!