A couple of weeks ago, my family attended the funeral of my wife’s grandmother. She was 97 when she died. The visitation and funeral were attended by many family and friends. As we were driving to the cemetery following the service, I looked at the long line of cars in front of us. I looked in the rearview mirror to see the long line of cars behind us, going out of my range of sight. I looked at the cars stopped on the other side of the road, watching the long procession go by. I could tell, by the expression on some of their faces, that they were wondering who this person was, that so many people were attending the funeral. It must be someone really important.
As we continued to drive, I asked my wife if she knew what was significant about this long procession of cars. She gave me an answer or two, but it was not the answer I was looking for. Grandma Ray had a large family. Her obituary states that she had nine children, twenty-two grandchildren, thirty-two great-grandchildren, and twenty-three great-great-grandchildren. The sheer number of this group, especially if you add in spouses, could make for a large turnout. However, I have known of people with large families who would not have many attend their funeral. In Grandma Ray’s case, many of the family did attend. Many friends attended as well. Why?
Grandma Ray cared for others. With a family this large, it would be easy for people to fall through the cracks. But no matter how old or young, whether you came by frequently or seldom, whether your life was a mess or you seemed to have it all together, whether you had been in the family more than 70 years or just a day, you were always welcome at Grandma’s house.
Grandma Ray probably did not think that she was anyone of great importance. She was just a regular person. In the eyes of the larger world, most people would not know who she was. Neither Hollywood nor Washington DC ever came knocking on her door. But if you ask her family and those whose lives of families she touched over the years through babysitting or ironing (which she did almost up to the very end), they would tell you that Grandma impacted their lives significantly. And they will tell generations to come about their mom, mother-in-law, grandma, babysitter, and friend, and about what a special person she was.
This is the message I wanted my wife to hear. Many people do not see themselves as great persons, highly gifted and influential. They don’t figure that their lives make much of a difference. And yet, I believe that, most of the times, it is the regular people that God uses to make the biggest impact in other’s lives. I think that Scripture teaches this.
The Bible teaches that it is servants who make the biggest impact for the kingdom of God and that to be the greatest, you must be a servant. Only if we humble ourselves will we be exalted in God’s eyes. Even Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life up as a sacrifice (Matthew 20:25-28; 23:11-12). In fact, God chooses to use those who not viewed as great in the eyes of the world (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). God uses these people to demonstrate His love to others. I believe this is why Grandma Ray’s life impacted so many. She was trusting in God and the sacrifice of Jesus for her life. And God’s loved worked through her life in a loving and sacrificial way that impacted many others.
God’s love is amazing, beyond our comprehension. When we receive the life He offers us through Christ, He pours His love into our lives. But it is not just for our benefit. It is for the benefit of others as well. Therefore, we become a means of God showing His love to others. He uses our lives to touch others with His love. By His grace we are saved, not by our good works, but as a gift from God, in order that we might do the good works that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10).
I believe that Grandma Ray’s life was an outpouring of this love from God. The impact of her life could be clearly seen from those who came to pay their tribute to her that day. It is a reminder that God has specially created each one of us. Today, if you think you are not specially gifted or talented and that you will never be able to do great things, you need to think again. In fact, if you think you have anything to offer to God, you also need to think again. Those who come with empty hands before God can be used to share His love in ways that will impact others for generations. The life of worship is not doing big things for God. It is being faithful to share the love of Christ as we walk along the way. God may use us to do some big things, but most of the time, it will involve being faithful to serve and touch the lives of those we meet. God will use us in ways we could never imagine. The world may never notice, but our eternal reward will be great. And God will use us to impact others with His love.
Together for His glory…