I recently had one of the most memorable experiences of my 32 years of life. I gathered with a dozen of my cousins and all my aunts and uncles in my grandparents’ living room. My Papa and Nana sat in their recliners in the center. My Nana has been battling Parkinson’s disease for several years now and believes she will soon see Jesus face to face. So we gathered as a family to worship and praise and play music, creating perhaps the most special memory we’ve ever made as a family, before she passes on.

As we sat there singing all of Papa and Nana’s favorite hymns, she kept her arms raised and her face turned upward toward Heaven. Her body is weak, but her spirit and love for her Savior are as strong as they’ve ever been.

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine…

As my cousins played their guitars and my uncle the violin, I looked around the room in awe. In harmony and fervor we lifted our voices together to the Lord. Because of the spiritual heritage Nana and Papa created and the legacy of faith they passed down, we were there.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee. How great Thou art, how great Thou art…

My grandparents had spent their lives investing in the kingdom of God. They didn’t store up grain in barns. Anything they earned they gave away. They lived humbly and discreetly as God’s servants in a small community, raising six children. They pastored one church for 50 years. They never made a name for themselves or even built a retirement fund, but year after year they were faithful to abide with the Lord, serve Him, and trust Him.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer…

As my Nana’s disease progresses, she often gets confused or loses her train of thought. But not one line of any hymn we sang had she forgotten. She lifted verse after verse and chorus after chorus to the Lord for more than two hours. Praise is written on her heart. It’s not just something she does. A worshipper is who she is. She has worshipped God in good times and bad, in bed, at the sewing machine, the piano, and over dishes at the kitchen sink…for her entire life.

Just a closer walk with Thee. Grant it, Jesus, is my plea. Daily walking close to Thee. Let it be, dear Lord, let it be…

As I sang and soaked in the hymns of my childhood, it was hard to take my eyes off Nana and her up-stretched hands. She challenged and convicted me. This was who I wanted to be in my eighties. A woman who believed deeply in praise and prayer. A woman of depth and intimacy with the Lord, with treasure in Heaven, not on Earth. And a woman whose spiritual fruit is evident in the lives of her children and grandchildren, who gather around and call her blessed.

I left our gathering with a renewed thankfulness for my spiritual heritage and a renewed resolve to pass it to my children.

May I never become luke-warm in the faith that was handed to me with fire. May I never stop praying, reading God’s word, and praising Him, which are the building blocks of a faith that stands. And may I never buy into the belief that this generation’s treasures – possessions, social media, and notoriety – are more satisfying than Jesus and a life humbly poured out for Him.

Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus because He first loved me!