I remember my Grandma Duke, my mother’s mother, once telling us that you could meet Jesus any day and every day in the people you meet if you just remembered to look for Jesus to appear. As far as I know, Grandma lived as she spoke. When young, she taught school. My grandfather died and left Grandma with five small children on a farm in Kentucky in 1932. Around 1940, Grandma remarried. Two more children were born from this marriage, but much of the time Grandma functioned as a single parent with seven children.
After World War II, my mother and her siblings moved away from Corbin, Kentucky. My mother and her brother, Homer, moved to Richmond, Indiana. Grandma soon followed with the two youngest children. Grandma worked as a nurse eventually retiring while I was in high school.
In retirement, Grandma worked taking care of people who needed her help in her neighborhood. She attended a Methodist church about two blocks from her home. She frequently watched my siblings and me when we were small. She loved gardening and remained active caring for others and in her garden until she died at the age of 91.
Some of my most valuable lessons were from Grandma Duke. She was not perfect, but she knew how to love. She shared it often with whoever was around. This returns me to her thoughts about meeting Jesus. I originally understood the meaning to be that it was necessary to be on good behavior so Jesus would not think poorly of me. I eventually realized that she meant something much more important than that.
Grandma was telling us about the importance of relationship. She meant it was important to respect others and value the place of others in our world. She meant we should look for Jesus in life and in everybody… no exceptions. I feel she desired to follow Jesus by living as he demonstrated we should live. One of the best ways to do that is by looking for Jesus or walking with Jesus as we live.
Consider how your life could change if you busied yourself each day with looking for Jesus in life. It would mean you would begin your transactions with others by looking for the good and positive values, properties, and possibilities. This does not mean you should not be wary of evil and negative factors and events in life. I see it more as a way to arrange life so you can be more certain not to miss out on the good and the positive.
For me, this means so much. It has seemed much easier for me to find and then concentrate on the negative. My relationship with Jesus, when I remember to look for him, saves me from such a focus. As I considered how to share my findings on a relationship with Jesus, it seemed I was discovering just how negative it seems we are taught to be in so many facets of life. Advertising tells us we need the latest, greatest, fanciest, and most popular of whatever it is the ad is selling. We are constantly bombarded with information that will help us to be more beautiful, smarter, more attractive, healthier, wealthier, and even more wise… this blog of mine could even fall into that flood of information. I hope it does not.
Our churches and other “spiritual” organizations seem to join in with the other information competing for our attention. There is no lack of such organizations and members of such organizations who are eager to tell you how they can “save” you in one way or another from some sort of “hell”. Many of them insist that theirs is the only way. There are those who insist they have no dogma or spiritual overhead of any type. Then, they introduce you to their long list of beliefs, rules, and requirements for achieving whatever their own understanding of the life that leads to “heaven” with whatever name or description it possesses. These organizations take relatively easy concepts presented by someone such as Jesus, then embellish them with many layers of additional beliefs and ideas so that it can be somewhere between difficult and impossible for anyone to clearly understand the original idea.
I have never worshiped Grandma Duke, but I have always admired and respected her and her advice and lessons. I am certain the lessons on Jesus and many other things have made a great, positive difference in my life.
Is it necessary to worship somebody in order for them to make a difference in your life? I have wondered about the importance of worshiping Jesus. I suppose it depends upon how “worship” is defined. Think about that in your life. How do you define Jesus? How do you define God? How do you define love? Do you truly have a definition of these things in your life or has somebody else defined them for you?
Grandma’s first name was Ida. One summer when we were hoeing potatoes in the large family garden, she stopped briefly to tell us that we would have “Ida-hoed potatoes!” We all laughed together and continued the work. She taught the importance of putting yourself into life. As I first began to learn from Grandma, it all starts with relationships. What are you making of yours? If you allow your relationships with God, Allah, Jesus, Mohammed, your neighbor, your family, and other people and objects in life to be defined by others, maybe it is time that you investigated the possibility of defining and developing those relationships for yourself. Are you willing to give of yourself? Is life “personal” for you? When a decision in life, even those seemingly small daily decisions, is necessary, one should ask how your decision would fit within one’s relationship with Jesus rather than asking what would Billy Graham, Pastor So and So, Joel Osteen, the pope, mother, or some preacher or imam would advise you to do. Invest enough of yourself to leave a bit of yourself behind.
I think that is what Grandma Duke would recommend. Then, she would go out and model how to do it. As Jesus so often says, “Follow me”.