Faith, Feelings, and Granny’s Finger
When visiting my 89-pound 89-year-old grandmother, I would first stop in her kitchen to check her ceramic brown cookie jar for cookies. She made awesome oatmeal cookies, and all the cousins knew about this “little bit of heaven” on Granny’s kitchen counter by the sink. On this one particular day, I grabbed a few cookies and headed into the living room where Granny sat in her large recliner by the front window overlooking her front yard and street. She had seen me coming and knew she would have to bake more cookies after I left. Granny was a spiritual powerhouse in a frail frame who passionately loved Jesus. When she prayed, I cried. When she spoke about spiritual things, I listened. But frail as she was, Granny was no push over; she had raised her six kids in the crucible of poverty during the Great Depression with a husband unable to work because of his health.
I had given my heart to Jesus the year before and found myself stopping frequently to ask Granny for spiritual advice. I had come out of some very dark things in my past including active involvement in the occult and other destructive things. Thankfully, the Lord rescued me before I destroyed myself. Granny would patiently sit there and smile and listen to all my woes as a new Christian as I struggled to find my way with my new-found faith. “Granny,” I’d say, “I know I asked Jesus to come into my life, but I don’t really feel Him! I mean, sometimes I do, but most of the time I don’t.” To help me, she would quote some verses from the Bible. Or, I would sometimes say, “Granny, I don’t see the Lord doing the things He used to do in my life like He did right after I gave my heart to Him.” Smiling, she quoted more helpful verses. “When I pray, sometimes it feels like I’m praying to the wall.” Smile. Verses.
And that’s how it went for about six months. Until one day. I stopped by to see Granny, hit the cookie jar, took one step in the living room, and Granny raised her bony index finger into the air, pointed at me and said, “STOP Right There!” And I stopped dead in my tracks! The force of Granny’s finger and voice was so great I felt like I had just been stopped by a seven-foot warrior in full battle armor that was ready to plunge a massive sword into my heart if I took one step further! So buddy, I didn’t budge from that spot in the kitchen! She lowered her finger and sweetly recited a little poem to me and then prayed for me. I was stunned and went home.
On the next visit, I was again stopped and stood in the kitchen listening to her poem and prayer for me. The next visit, the same, and the next, and the next. Then one day when she stopped me, I recited the poem to her! She had quoted it so many times that I had it memorized! More importantly, she had gotten the meaning of the poem to penetrate my heart. And I had learned that no matter what my feelings “said,” that didn’t change who Jesus was or what He had accomplished on the cross.
On my next visit, with me now allowed back in the living room, we sat together, Granny closed her eyes, and together we recited the little poem attributed to Martin Luther:
“Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God–
Naught else is worth believing.
I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
His Word, shall stand FOREVER!”
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” –Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
Copyright © 2010 by William D. (Nick) Nichols