Let the Circle be Unbroken: The Goodness of the Lord

Psalms 27:13-14:  I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

My mom was 86 years old when she finally decided she’d like to join the rest of her family in believer’s baptism. The timing was perfect: a reunion to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday meant her pastor grandson would be flying in for a visit. I was delighted to learn she’d asked my son Jon to baptize her and he’d agreed.

Jon wanted to be certain she understood the meaning of the step she was about to take, so before the baptism he took her through the relevant Scriptures, carefully and patiently explaining each one. Sitting down on the couch next to her grandson, Mom looked happy as could be and tried her best to follow along with her magnifying glass and large-print Bible. I was flooded with joy as I witnessed this conversation—what a marvelous culmination of years of prayer as both a daughter and a mother!

Mom leaned forward, listening intently and nodding, but when Jon began to read from Acts Chapter 8 about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, she got a puzzled look on her face. She stopped him right there and asked for clarification.

“Eunuch? You mean one of those horses with one horn?”

Jon admirably kept a straight face, but then had to quickly think of how to explain the concept of castration to his grandmother. He hesitated for only a moment.

“No, Granny,” he gently corrected her, “You are thinking of a unicorn. A eunuch is different. A eunuch is well… a eunuch is, uh, basically, it’s just kind of a slave.”

“Oh,” she nodded, and thankfully let him go on without needing further amplification. Later she would tell me she’d learned more about the Bible that morning than she had in all her years of attending church services.

My brother Ed, who led me to the Lord, cares for my aging parents on a daily basis. He helped my mom down the steps and into the water. He provided a little extra support as Jon immersed my mother in the waters of baptism based on her profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

Wait for the Lord

My brother and I came to personal faith in Christ as adults, and our parents were not particularly in favor of the resulting change they saw in our lifestyles. Rather than downing shots of Aquavit with them and singing Swedish drinking songs on Christmas Eve, we now wanted to read the story of the Nativity and sing hymns at a candlelight service. They thought our constant Bible reading a bit fanatical, our references to our relationship with God and his indwelling Spirit somewhat fanciful.

Ed and I each wrote long, heartfelt letters explaining our faith as well as engaging in lengthy regular debates about Christianity with our skeptical parents. Their responses were always disappointing.

For decades Ed and I prayed that they would come to know Jesus as we did.

We didn’t see much change until they moved to Texas in their 80’s and Ed and his wife Janis began to care for them. Janis sat with my mother and did one-on-one Bible study, explaining foundational truths she had never seen or understood before. As a result, she began to attend her first Bible study ever at their retirement community.

My parents started to go to church with Ed and Janis every Sunday.

My father quit drinking.

Miracles were happening. After all these years. God is faithful even when we lose hope that things will ever change.

And so it was that 35 years after I was baptized as a new born-again believer, I heard my mother confess her faith in Christ and watched her take this step of obedience.

Let Your Heart Take Courage

God’s timing is perfect—he is not slow in keeping his promises. I was saved in my late twenties at my grandmother’s funeral and had to wait many years to see my parents’ transformation. But few experiences in life have been as wonderful to see as my son baptizing his grandmother. Truly I have “looked upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

May the circle be unbroken!