I was walking across the parking lot yesterday when I noticed a woman sitting on the bench in front of me...waiting for her number to be called. She looked lonely, really lonely. I made my way over and sat down beside her.
I introduce myself. “Hey, I’m Adam.” She says, “Martha.” That name takes me back. I had a Martha once, back when I was a child. Called her “Grandmother.” I spent all those years in Martin, Tennessee running around Martha’s house. Lots of memories there. Football in the backyard. Swinging on the front porch. Walking to the neighborhood school playground in the daytime and Nick at Nite in the evenings. That was a good place to be a kid.
I learned a lot of things from Martha. Mostly how to serve people. Seven children, one with down syndrome and, by the time I came along, a whole bunch of grandchildren. I remember thinking she went from the kitchen to sleep and back to the kitchen. I don’t recall ever seeing her be angry. I wish I could be more like that. I think she loved us so much there just wasn’t anything to be angry about. Quiet. Peaceful. Humble. Servant. Jesus said, “The person who is the greatest among you must be your servant.” She was definitely the greatest among us then. Thank you, Grandmother.
And I had a Eulane. Martha had a Eulane, would probably be a better way to say it. She shared him with me though. I always called him “Granddaddy.” I watched a lot of St. Louis Cardinals baseball with my granddaddy. And ice cream. I didn’t know a weakness for ice cream could be genetic.
I learned a lot of things from my Granddaddy. Mostly what matters most. Loving God and loving others. He was good at both. Worked all the time. I stopped at a gas station in Martin, Tennessee one time. The guy behind the counter made small talk with me. I told him I was a Walker and he asked if I was related to my Granddaddy. I nodded my head. He replied, “That’s the best man I know.” He’s pretty high on my list too. I don’t know what he did for that guy. He didn’t have much to offer as far as the world is concerned, but he would have given it to you. He didn’t have much of an education, but he read that Bible. It was close to his heart. I often wondered if there was anything closer to his heart. I doubt it. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. For they shall be filled.” Thank you, Granddaddy.
I had an Elizabeth too. Called her “Memaw.” My cousin Lynn takes credit for that. She was the oldest. My Memaw wanted to be a Mamaw. Lynn had different plans. At her house, sausage balls and fried bread ruled the day...every day.
I learned a lot of things from Memaw. She is still one of the smallest women I have ever known. I always thought she was frail. In fact, my uncles would pick her up and put her on top of the fridge when they were younger because she was afraid to get down. For as small as she was, though, she was pretty tough. I watched her suffer through a lot. I know often she wasn’t feeling well, but she kept a smile on her face. And she loved her family. She always wanted her family to be together. She would do anything for you, at any time, without hesitation. She loved well. The two greatest commandments begin with the word love. Thank you, Memaw.
Paul wrote about the men and women whose faith God used to write His story in Hebrews 11. He calls them witnesses…
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
These are some of my witnesses, the people whose lives shaped me. The ones who poured into me. I don’t know who your witnesses are, but I know you have them. Scripture says they are surrounding you, encouraging you, speaking life into your heart. Their desire for you is simple, to fix your eyes on Jesus, and keep running.