Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9 (NIV)
Do you ever feel like your efforts as a Christian aren’t yielding many results? The online church event you planned didn’t get many attendees, the person you’ve been praying for shows no interest when you mention your relationship with Jesus, the mission project you worked at…well, it just fizzled?
If so, I have a story for you.
Once when I was in a Bible study, the teacher asked the class to think about whether there was a person, perhaps a family member way back in the family tree, who was responsible for our faith.
My mother, and ultimately, my mother’s mother’s mother, my Great-Grandma Norris, immediately came to mind.
Birdie Belle Spotts Norris lived from 1879-1973, until the time I was seven. I remember her as a tiny, stooped woman who sat in a caned-bottomed rocker, pulled her gray hair up under a bonnet like I’d seen in Little House on the Prairie, and gave me a dime every time I saw her at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She lived in a house that had a cistern for water and, although it had indoor plumbing, still had an outhouse out back.
Great-Grandma Bellle had given birth to one child, a daughter who died at age 27, leaving four daughters of her own, the oldest of whom was seven. Belle and her husband, Bud, took in my mother and her sisters and raised them in a household that had little money but lots of love. From what my mother told me, Belle would often feed twenty for lunch, cooking on the old wood stove, during harvest time. She had a plaque in her kitchen with a prayer of thanks for dirty dishes—thanks that there was food to put on the table. She didn’t allow playing cards with faces in the house, she didn’t allow liquor, and she often invited the preacher home for the noon meal on Sunday. She raised those four little girls into four strong Christian women.
Belle’s husband, Bud, died long before I was born, but all I ever heard about him was that he laughed a lot, he could dance a jig and play the spoons, and he liked to listen to other people’s conversations on the party line on the telephone. Oh, and the fact that two of his brothers were named Frank and Jesse, in honor of the outlaw James gang.
I have to assume that the spiritual strength in the marriage came from his wife.
When I asked my husband about his faith ancestors, he told me of his Grandmother Fannie Kimberlin, a woman who was widowed when her sons were nine and eleven, a woman who persevered, leaned on Jesus, and raised two fine Christian men.
(I will digress from my main story here to mention that this is why, as an indie author, I named my book publishing company Kimberlin Belle Publishing. It seemed only fitting, when I planned to write Christian romance, to honor Fannie Kimberlin and Belle Norris, women who helped me be raised in a Christian home and have a wonderful Christian husband.)
But the main reason I bring up Belle and Fannie is that I’m pretty sure neither of them thought about the effect their faith might have on future generations. They were probably too busy doing the work that had to be done to raise those children, probably hoping and praying those children would love the Lord.
But their faith made a difference in many lives beyond the children they raised. Their faith touched the children my mother had in her class when she taught Sunday school for twenty-five years. The people who sang in the church choir my Aunt Mae led. The people my Aunt Helen prayed for. The people my father-in-law encouraged as he lived each day by the golden rule.
Their faith even touched me, giving me Jesus to lean on, even during a pandemic.
If I had to guess, I’d say your impact is the same, a lot bigger than you realize.
So, if things have been a struggle lately, I want to encourage you. Keep doing your part and know God’s got this. You may never see the results, but you can know you did your best.
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (RSV)