My Grandma Was Prone To Love...
Grandma’s lips always moved. If you were close enough you could sometimes catch a few phrases.
“Thank-you Jesus. I love you, Jesus. You are so precious.”
Elmer and Eva were the kindest and most gracious people on the planet. I am not exaggerating. They never spoke harshly of anyone; they were never critical and always giving. What they had was yours. My dad tells stories from his childhood about how the neighbor boys referred to Grandma as the “God Lady.” They would sneak into the Clark house any time of the day and help themselves to the cookies in the cookie jar. Apparently one day Grandma caught them red-handed. Then kindly she said, “Now boys, you can have cookies whenever you want, all you need do is ask.”
There is a verse in Daniel that describes my grandparents. “But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.” My grandma and grandpa, they were those saints. When you were around them you could almost taste it, smell it, feel it – heaven was that close.
My grandparents lived in Gods love. They gave over half their income to missions; their home was open to everyone. A holy hostel of sorts, a safe place for the wanderer, the hurting, and hungry. There was almost always someone living with them. In my twenties, I often wondered if some of these people took advantage of their generosity. But looking back, I realize now that it’s impossible to take advantage of love.
Grandpa lived to be 95; he went home first. Grandma followed at the age of 100. After Grandma died, I miraculously found myself in possession of an amazing, holy, historical, Clark birthright – her Bible. I remember helping pack up some of my grandparent’s things at their house. Somehow, I ended up with the box containing grandpa’s cool Sinatra hat and grandma’s bible.
It honestly wasn’t intentional. But when I realized I had Grandma’s Bible, and that no one in my family knew it, well, let’s just say, I was almost tempted beyond what I could bear. I’m not proud of this but it took me weeks to let the cat out of the bag. Personally, I thought it was God ordained. My family thought otherwise.
Dad finally sequestered it, but not before I had a chance to read through and scan some of the contents. That said, I still have grandpas hat and it’s the way he wanted it, so leave off!
I realize I am going on about this Bible but you have to understand, this was her bible for over 50 years! Some of my heritage as a lover of God has been documented and preserved in its pages. It was like having a personalized road map to my inheritance. This bible is marked on nearly every page and in every ink color, you can imagine. It is filled with intimate notes in the margins about Gods grace, and mercy, and kindness, and most of all, His love.
In fact, Gods love seemed to be the singular pursuit of my Grandmother. There were several handwritten notes, and poems she had cut out of papers, and magazines.
“For the love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind.
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.”
“He drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win, we drew a circle that took him in!”
Honestly, while writing this, I am overwhelmed and infinitely grateful by how my grandparents lived. They truly were world changers, heroes in the faith, saints. They lived in such an intimate friendship with Jesus and their prayers never ceased; for their kids, their grandkids, their great grandkids…
Even though they are now in heaven, I still feel the echoes of their prayers; I see the evidence in my life and the lives of my kids. I am their legacy, as are my kids and so on. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You see, when saints pray, the Kingdom is possessed, today, and for the ages that come.
My cousins, Chris and Jonathan, had the privilege of growing up in the same town as my grandparents. Since my grandparents passed I have heard many stories about their lives. Recently, however, I heard a new story about grandma Eva as told by my cousin Jonathan that just absolutely amazed me. I recognized it immediately because it is my story as well, it was a mile marker on a road map to my inheritance in my Fathers always-good love. But its not just for me, I believe I am meant to share with you as well.
Grandma and Grandpa went to their church whenever there was a service. They participated in every way. Jonathan was with Grandma one Sunday morning. During worship, Jonathan noticed she was not singing the words. Grandma was a worshiper; she always sang.
The congregation was well into the famous and beautiful Hymn “Come Thou Fount.” As Jonathan tells it, Grandma was not only not singing, she seemed slightly agitated.
The piano-led the voices,
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to Thee.
To Jonathan, Grandma’s lack of participation was almost stubborn.
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Grandma seemed perturbed by this line. Grandma was the most patient and kind woman on the planet. Perturbed was so out of character for her that Jonathan became concerned. Finally, he leaned over.
“Grandma, what’s wrong?” He whispered.
Grandma said, “I’m not prone to wander Jonathan. I love Him!
Come Thou Fount
Robert Robinson was born in 1735. He lost his father at the age of ten. His mother, believed to have been a strong Christian, had a desire to see her son grow to become a minister. However, Robert was willfully lost. When he turned fourteen his mother sent him to London to apprentice with a barber. For the next several years Robert lived a life of drinking and gambling. Robert was prone to wander.
At the age of seventeen, he and his drinking buddies went to a meeting where evangelist George Whitfield was preaching. Apparently, they were planning on mocking those in attendance but upon hearing the message, Robert’s heart was assaulted by Love.
The following three years Robert wrestled with God. In 1755, at the age of twenty, He won by surrendering. As a side note, God won too! It’s what we in the Kingdom call, a “win/win.”
Three years after Robert said yes to Love, he composed a song. This song is stunning in its revelation.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.
The song has four stanzas in total and for the last 250 years, it has captured hearts with the authority of its revelation. The lyrics and melody coalesce beautifully to reveal and release the wonder of grace and the power of Love. Many have sung this song while in their own wrestling match with God. There have been many win/wins because of Roberts revelation.
This song was Roberts story. It was a testimony of one sinner’s journey to the “mount of Thy redeeming love!” It’s the prodigal son epic. It’s one of the most stunning stories in the universe because it’s not just Roberts, it’s ours. Every one of us who have said yes to Love, have tasted and touched, been immersed and redeemed, restored and made whole.
All of us are on a journey like Roberts. We live to discover our Fathers Love. And while this song is powerful in that revelation, I would also like to suggest that the journey doesn’t end at the discovery; that’s just the beginning.
The power of the song “Come Thou Fount” is the revelation that we can always know His love.
The song is about a journey to the cross. It is the good news that just keeps getting better. But the song is the beginning of a story, not the end. You see, the cross is the launching pad, the foundation, the slingshot that propels us into the victorious, miraculous, greater works existence Jesus modeled and told us we had access to.
The cross is only beautiful because of the empty tomb. We celebrate His death because of His resurrection. I would like to suggest that the power of Love is perfected when sinners become saints. That was the whole point of Jesus death and resurrection – that we would encounter Love and become love.
Jesus never once was “prone to wander” or “prone to leave the God He loved.” He came to earth to settle that exact issue once and for all. He came to set us free that we too might see, encounter, and become love; that we might be transformed from “prone to wander,” to “prone to love Him!”
I think that if a person sings the line “prone to wander” as a testimony, it is stunning, powerful, life-changing revelation. But when a believer, as a proclamation, sings those lyrics, they are debilitating and destructive. While that line in the song is brilliant theology for the sinner, it is devastating theology for the saint.
Like my grandmother, I no longer sing “prone to wander.” I can’t, it’s not true; my Heavenly Father said so. Instead, when I sing this beautiful hymn, by faith, I agree with how my Father sees me. I sing, “prone to love you, Lord, I feel it, prone to know the God I love.” And I can’t help but cry tears of joy while I sing this. Why? Because not only is it the cry of my heart, but because of my beautiful best friend Jesus, it’s true! And how good is He for making it so thank you, Jesus!
My journey is a headlong discovery of my Fathers love. There is no greater discovery ever made and I am learning that the discovery of His love sets me free to become love. In fact, my revelation of my Fathers love is what transforms me.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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