God answered Mom Flanders’s prayer across five generations

As my older two sons took turns reading chapters out of Deuteronomy, my father listened, but I could tell he was somewhere else. His face displayed a kind of emotion I don’t usually see. When we put down the family Bible, Pops, as my boys call him, began to speak. We found out where he was, and my boys learned how our lives had been profoundly shaped by a woman they never met.

My father recalled his grandmother’s modest home nestled in a grove of towering pecan trees just south of Vidalia, Georgia. In the 1960s, air conditioning and television hadn’t made it far into the country, but an army of creaking fans rendered the stifling summer air almost tolerable.

He told stories about Rawhide, a milking cow, who was treated like a member of the family. When the boys asked what happened to Rawhide, my father couldn’t remember the treasured bovine ever dying. Given the proximity to the evening’s scripture reading, my sons briefly discussed the possibility that Rawhide might have been raptured. Pops didn’t directly refute the theory but noted that he lost track of Rawhide when his grandmother finally moved from the country to the city.

My boys licked their lips as he described picking massive blackberries, mixing them with Rawhide’s cold cream, and slathering it over warm biscuits. Food is a love language in my family, and my great grandmother clearly had a lot of love to give.

I chuckled a bit as my father explained that “Rawhide was also his favorite television show. My boys politely notified him that they’d never heard of Rowdy Yates or this Clint Eastwood guy who played the character.

But it wasn’t the pecan trees, the oppressive heat, or Rawhide that sparked my father’s recollection.

He remembered how much Mom Flanders, my sons’ great great grandmother, loved Jesus. As the vignettes from sixty years ago certainly caught my sons’ attention, my father took the opportunity to discuss a generational treasure that now belonged to them.

No matter who was in Mom Flanders’s home, they were going to read the Bible and sing hymns every night. It wasn’t a matter for debate. My father remembered each song. The boys giggled as he sang a few bars of “Sweet is the Song I am Singing Today Redeemed” and “He Set Me Free.” He recalled Mom Flanders wailing away on the old piano as if she wanted to make sure heaven itself heard the music.

Then she would pray.

My boys were amazed to learn that she could pray for longer than Pops, who they have determined offers the longest prayers of anyone in our family. But Mom Flanders wasn’t trying to impress with her piety. She often had a house full of people, and she’d pray for each of them by name. Then she’d start after the ones who weren’t there and probably should have been.

Mom Flanders believed that God was faithful to do all He promised in the Bible, and she was going to hold Him to it. She knew God would not abandon her, and she prayed that He would call her family to follow Him as well. Her life laid the foundation for my father to know Jesus, to feel unconditional love, and to understand why the Gospel is so critical for a fallen and broken world.

It would be a faith that carried him through his father’s alcoholism. He’d proudly wear the label of “God squad” in the University of Alabama football locker room. It had to have been divine intervention that he married my mother. He was faithful to teach his children, and our faith served as an anchor through the storm of my brother’s suicide. Through school, the challenges of marriage, and building a family, the same faith guided my life. God never abandoned me even though I couldn’t say the same.

And it led to a moment in my living room gathered around the fireplace with my three sons who have decided they’d like to follow Jesus as well.

God answered Mom Flanders’s prayers across five generations. Through alcoholism, suicide, broken relationships, financial hardships, and countless other trials, the gates of Hell had not prevailed against a diminutive southern woman and her descendants. God is indeed faithful,and my sons are living proof.

Too often, those of us who follow Jesus forget that we are indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Others will testify about what we love long after we’re gone. Are we fathers who love professional accolades more than time with our children? Are we mothers who value a pristine image more than embracing life’s beautiful mess? Are we sons and daughters who love our possessions more than the brief time with our families?

If we claim to love Jesus, will the witnesses to our lives say that we loved them well? Did God’s truth connect through our love to mend broken hearts and restore lives? Many souls that darkened Mom Flanders’s door didn’t share her faith, but she loved them all the same. They too were made in God’s image. My sons are heirs to that legacy, and it’s my responsibility to remind them about it as they grow.

While I never saw the pecan grove, we have a cutting from one of Mom Flanders’s fig trees that’s planted in our yard. Pops’s words to my family gave it new meaning. It is a quiet marker of one woman’s faithfulness impacting one generation after another.

Cameron Smith is CEO of the Triptych Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The Triptych Foundation promotes a virtuous society through investments in socially impactful media and business. He was recently executive director of the Republican Policy Committee in the United States House of Representatives. You can reach him at cameron@triptychfoundation.org.

First published on Al.com – Click HERE to see the original article.