Friday, November 21, 2008

Legacy of Love

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. Luke 1:46:50

From my earliest memories I can still hear my grandmother sharing, with anyone who would listen, how a simple prayer changed her life forever. During this difficult time in her life, she really didn’t know if she even believed there was a God, but since everything else in her life had disintegrated, she decided she would try reaching out to Him through prayer.

Grandma was damaged goods. She had been raised by alcoholic parents, sexually abused and at the tender age of seventeen found herself trapped in an abusive relationship. She was a battered wife. There were two baby girls born to this union, my Aunt Dee and my mother, Bonnie.

The summer of 1935, Grandma’s husband came home drunk again. After enduring another beating, Grandma gathered up her little girls and fled to Elliot Park, a nearby refuge in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, where many of the poor gathered on hot summer days to cool off in the community wading pool. As she watched her daughters playing, she made a decision. She plotted to take her two girls, tie them to her waist and jump from the local bridge and end their miserable existence. It was settled. No more poverty, no more hunger and no more domestic violence. Then, as she watched her daughters, ages three and four, splashing each other, she began to weep. She couldn’t go through with her plan. What could she do? It was at that very moment she decided to pray. Her family had never attended church. She didn’t know how to pray, but she remembered the beginning of a little prayer that she had memorized.

“God is great. God is good. God, if you are there. Will you please help me? ”

A holy hush swept over her being. She felt she was to return to her parents’ home in Iowa. She sensed that she would find what she was looking for there.

When Grandma arrived in Iowa, she was surprised to discover that her mother didn’t drink any more. She had gotten “religion”. Grandma was suspicious of her new and improved mother, but it didn’t take long before she embraced her mother’s experience and had a spiritual encounter of her own. She had found what she was yearning for. As she received helped, she was consumed with helping others, especially women and children. She started a Children's Church in her neighborhood. Her dining room became a soup kitchen, where the hungry were fed. Her porch was often a barbershop, where the locals gathered to get a free hair cut. She hid, protected and ministered to battered women and even housed children and teenagers, who had been sexually and physically abused. Every one of those that she helped heard her testimony of how God answered her simple prayer in Elliot Park. She would often squeal with delight, “God is great! God is good! He hears and answers prayer.”

Sixty-two years after my grandmother’s Elliot Park experience, my husband and I were on a three-hour road trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We were delivering our first-born child to North Central University for the start of her freshman year. We arrived just in time for a tour of the campus. A friendly North Central student pointed to a park directly across the street from our daughter’s dormitory.

“That is Eliot Park.”

I immediately crossed the street. As my feet touched the sacred soil where Grandma's frightened feet had fled in terror, I realized that God had answered her prayer above and beyond her wildest dreams.

“God is great. God is good. God, if You are there. Will you please help me?”

As the Spirit ministered to my spirit, I realized that our eighteen-year-old daughter’s spiritual destiny really started sixty-two years previous, when her great-grandmother was crying out to God for help.

God, You are great and You are good. Thank You for helping my grandmother and changing our eternal destiny!

1 comment:

Jean said...

Oh, what a thrilling & touching story! I'm crying like a baby! (This is the stuff great books are made of, BTW.)

Praise God for His faithfulness to our feeble prayers. He took your GMs fragile life and used it as His hands on earth, His heart expanded, His love scattered throughout the generations on earth.

What an incredible & wonderful heritage.


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