Written by: Sarah Walker
Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in comparing ourselves with others! When I do this, I am never on the winning end of my comparison! It is so easy for me to see where I fall short, compared to the amazing qualities that others posses.
I start to question, why would God ever use me when He has this person or that person who excels in areas I don’t? What impact could I ever make?
I am nobody special!
As I sat back and thought about the people who have been the most influential in my life, it is not the great speakers or authors or incredibly gifted people that have had the most impact, even though those people have encouraged me a lot! Instead, it is the people within my life who daily live out what is looks like to be a Christ-follower. They are humble and loving. They are not self-seeking. They passionately pursue Jesus in all circumstances. They strive to follow His guidance and His ways, even in the smallest details of life.
I had always known my Grandma Oates as a woman of few words. She was very sweet and gentle. She passed away from cancer when I was in high school.
I didn’t know much about her aside from her warm and loving presence in my life, and also that her cookie drawer was always full! I would watch her on Sundays as she prepared the snack for kid’s church. I remember that she was acknowledged every year for perfect church attendance (an outdated practice today!), and I would sometimes help her and my Grandfather clean the church each week.
She worked hard and sought no recognition, setting the example of a quiet servant, not looking for any acknowledgment or reward.
After my Grandma passed away, my Grandpa wrote a short book about her life. It was an incredible gift to receive! It was amazing to get to know her in a new way, and to understand her beyond just my childhood image that I hold so dearly.
I knew my Grandma was hard of hearing, but what I learned was that her hearing loss was the result of having scarlet fever as a small child. She had lived her entire life with minimal hearing; because of this, she had learned to read lips, and spoke with a speech impediment. She was bullied during school and grew to be self-conscious of the way she spoke.
Despite her insecurities, she held bible studies in her home, and in addition to her own four children, she fostered dozens more, providing a loving and safe place for kids in tough circumstances, so that they might at least temporarily have a stable home.
At her funeral, I was shocked at the number of people who came through the visitation and the ceremony. The place was packed! Hundreds came to pay their respects to my quiet, behind-the-scenes Grandma. For someone who loved the background, and drew no attention to herself, her example and her loving presence had impacted people far more than I think any of us realized at the time.
One of my very favorite memories of my Grandma’s life came from her funeral. A man walked up to the receiving line, shook my Dad’s hand, and introduced himself. He said that years ago, his own mother had attended a bible study in my grandparents’ home. Because of this bible study, his mom was introduced to Jesus and accepted Him as her Lord and Saviour; now, decades later, his entire family has a relationship with Jesus because of the study that my Grandma hosted years before.
My Grandma never had a strong voice, she didn’t have a platform, she shunned the spotlight, and she spent her life quietly serving others. Though never “famous,” through her loving actions she left behind a legacy far greater than I ever imagined!
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. (Isaiah 40:29)
What’s important in man’s eyes – fame, power, gifting – is far less important to God than humility, service, and perseverance. My Grandma left a major mark on the world, just by being herself and serving faithfully. In the moments where other people seem to shine much brighter than myself, I am reminded of her sweet and humble example, and I smile. God knows who I am, and my job is to walk with Him, and walk out faithfulness as best I can – nothing more, nothing less.