Time waits for no man, not even the Apostle to the Gentiles. Languishing in a real, shackles & chains prison, abandoned by all of his traveling companions except Luke, Paul reaches out to young pastor and "my dear son" Timothy. He longs to see him. But even more he longs for him to walk in courage, in the Spirit, and in his gifting. He knows the arc of his life is almost over, his greatest accomplishments things of the past. Behind him are his godly ancestors; ahead of him, Timothy; all three generations are links in the chain of faithful witnesses. Paul also invokes Timothy's spiritual heritage, of a godly mother and grandmother.
This afternoon Diane's brother Steve Carlsen called to wish me Happy Birthday. His wife Sue is recovering from serious illness, and Steve is the primary caregiver. Not surprisingly, he's tired a lot.
The Carlsen kids had a difficult childhood, but they also had the great blessing of a godly, loving grandmother, Helen Edwards. (Joe's full name is Joseph Edwards Page, in her honor.) Grandma Edwards was a rock of love and affirmation. My words cannot describe Diane's loyalty and affection for her. Sometime ago, Diane inherited her precious, extremely well-read Bible. About 12 years ago Diane was wondering if the dead (including her) could speak. On a whim I said, "why don't we open her Bible randomly and see what we can find?" We did so and my finger fell on I Samuel 28 - the story of Saul calling up the spirit of the prophet Samuel! The message was clear: if those asleep in Christ could speak, they would urge obedience to God's word.
But the ministry of Grandma Edwards and her Bible doesn't end there. Steve told me today that in his fatigue he was reading through her Bible, looking for inspiration. He came across a note Helen had written in a margin: "When I am at my lowest, I must praise the Lord!" And so, her grandson did, 25 years after she went on to Glory.
I like to think that something in this blog will bless my middle-aged grandson or granddaughter someday, long after my physical arc is complete. Even more I hope that by God's grace the next generation or two will see in my life and example the comfort of Christ. To all of my offspring - including my own son Timothy - I say with Paul: "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."