2 Timothy 1:5
Sometimes the best treasures are hidden within the deep recesses of a bookshelf, and I’m not talking about a book.
A few weeks after my mother’s passing, my dad invited me to take whatever books I wanted from her bookshelf, because he wanted to clear it out.
While I was focused collecting the books I wanted and organizing them on the kitchen table, I walked past the empty shelves, and something else caught my eye.
Stuffed in the back of an upper shelf were three rubber-band bound packets of index cards. I reached in for a closer inspection and discovered that they were filled with mom’s delicate cursive writing of scripture verses, front and back.
How long had these cards lived behind books on that shelf? Joyce Hanson, November 1990, is written on the inside cover of “Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life” by Henri J.M. Nouwen, and words are high-lighted and underlined on almost every page. That was one of the books on her shelf, and my first clue. She attributed several card quotes from this one. On some cards, she wrote beautiful scripture-based prayers and who they were dedicated to with dates. They ranged in years from the 1990s to 2014. On others, no attribution, but nuggets of wisdom.
I was over-whelmed. Grief, gratitude and delight came pouring out. Gazing at her hand-writing, I could hear her voice. Many cards were wrinkled, some softened with age with faded ink. I still haven’t read through every single one of them yet, but I plan to. I’m guessing there’s roughly 500 of them.
How and when did she make it a practice to pray with scripture and write her prayers? She did not teach me to do this, but as a teenager, I watched her sift through some index cards when she had returned from running, which was one of her favorite ways to exercise when I was in high school, and she often told me she memorized scripture while jogging.
In her early 20s, Mom earned her LPN in nursing. Then, studying at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Golden Valley, Minnesota in 1965 gave her a solid foundation of theology and Lutheran doctrine. That deepened her faith, and she almost went overseas to work as missionary nurse, but the Lord gave her my Dad, my sister and me as her mission field instead.
Did she know that I would be going through those index cards, one by one, reading the same scriptures that she read, wrote down and memorized?
She devoted hours interceding in prayer for her children, for her grandchildren, and friends, and so many others. She was planting seeds she knew she would not live to see, but I am now reaping the harvest from those prayers, roughly 30 years later, as I’m praying for my own kids, realizing that her prayers of passing on her faith have been answered. I will now pray for and over my children with the same urgency and fervency that mom did for me and my sister.
Timothy may not have had a set of index cards from his mother, Eunice, but this young protégé of the Apostle Paul didn’t grow into a genuine Christian by accident. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul reminds Timothy of his faith legacy. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Lois and Eunice communicated their strong Christian faith to Timothy. Bible commentaries say that Timothy was mixed race, half Jew and half Greek, which suggests that his father may not have been a believer, so the influence of his mother’s side was crucial in shaping his character and values.
Moses would not have been in a position to lead his Hebrew people out of Egyptian slavery had it not been for the strong faith of his mother and father who had the courage to hide him when all other Hebrew male babies were being slaughtered by a ruthless Pharoah, and then put her precious bundle of joy in a basket on the Nile. The rest of the story is in Exodus 2: 1-8.
To intercede for someone, and be prayed for, is a high calling and honor. The devil does due diligence in convincing us prayer is useless and distracts us from it because he knows God is much more powerful than him. We must be on guard against that indifference and deception!
Our prayers matter, and there are hundreds of books on the market teaching effective prayer. Several live on my bookshelf. We must make the time. We must put forth the effort, even if we don’t see or feel immediate results. Our prayers release the power of God to work in the lives of those we love beyond what makes sense and our timing.
Mothers and grandmothers, aunts, sisters, nieces, let’s allow Christ to shine in our hearts at home. Our families are fertile fields for planting seeds of the gospel. Let’s show our children and grandchildren our faith through Christ’s love in us. Never, ever underestimate the power of our prayers over our children and grandchildren!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Make me sensitive to the promptings of your Holy Spirit. Whenever someone is laid on my heart or brought to my mind, I need to be an intercessor. When I’m not sure of the need, I pray that they would know God, be kept in His name, be kept from the evil one, and be sanctified in the truth. How little we realize what impact our intercession has in the kingdom of God. God is gracious to give us the privilege of prayer that allows us to participate with Him in ministering to others. Ask to be filled with the knowledge of His will before offering petitions for a desired good to be effective. Ask for spiritual understanding and direction in prayer and to be a faithful intercessor. Every life is in the hands of God. Our task is not to fix, control, or repair, but to honestly love others just the way they are, letting God work with them on their own healing. Be assured that your prayers make a difference.
Source unknown, from one of mom’s index cards.