Growing up, I did not go to church – thankfully, I had two grandmothers who influenced my childhood.
One was a Catholic grandmother who never took me to mass, but talked to me about Jesus every time I saw her. She had Scriptures and Bibles in her home and was always ready to talk about her love for Jesus. The other grandmother took me to a Nazarene church as often as she could. We lived a few hours apart, so that resulted in only a few times a year. But those seeds went deep, as I was a little girl trying to make sense of my world.
I had adults in my life that said, “Don’t listen to Christians – they are brainwashed.” I had other adults telling me that there was a God and He loved me completely. I wrote in my little Snoopy journal, and when I was about eight years old, I had written, “Dear God – I really want to know you and love you. I’m really confused because the adults have different things to say about you and some of them even tell me you are not real. I want to know you and love you. Please help me figure out the truth…”
When I was fifteen years old, I asked Jesus to be my Savior. It was a snowy week in Denver, and my neighbor invited me to a “youth group” for a movie and pizza. I had never been to a church event with kids my own age, only with my grandparents. I went for the pizza, but the Lord had so much more in store for me that evening.
It was October 17, 1984, and after the movie finished, the youth pastor asked a few questions of the teens present. It was like all my years of wanting to know Jesus and understand Him came to a powerful moment; I went forward to talk to the youth pastor. He led me in a prayer, and I gave my life to the Lord. That one night changed everything. It changed my outlook, my priorities and what I valued as a teenage girl. I was so excited to share this with my friends and especially my grandmothers.
Upon sharing the story, my Nazarene grandmother, she reminded me that when I was five years old, I knelt in the front of the church with “brother Bob” and asked Jesus into my heart. When she reminded me of that experience, it was as if the Lord softly said, “Tammy – remember when you were a little girl and I knocked on the door of your heart? You asked me to come in and clean out your heart, and I have been here ever since.”
Suddenly I remembered that image of the old wooden door, and Jesus standing there knocking. I remembered it vividly, like it was yesterday. I also remembered having an odd childhood image that Jesus liked to sweep. Sweep? Why was I thinking about that? It dawned on me that as a five-year-old girl, I prayed the sinner’s prayer asking Jesus to “come in and clean out my heart”. Apparently I associated that with the image of Jesus holding a broom – He was coming into my heart and cleaning it all up. What a great moment to remember.
I truly believe that when I was five, God planted a seed deep into my little heart, and He created a longing inside me to know Him, and to one day fully ask Him to be my Savior.
My grandmothers had such a strong influence on my faith that, although I only saw them a few times a year and maybe one week during the summer, it mattered. They may have wondered if they made any difference or if when I returned to my home, I might forget all their stories and attempts to influence me. It may not have been evident on the outside that those influences were making a difference, but I am certain that God used every moment for His good and for His purposes. Each VBS they took me to and every talk at the kitchen table, it all was part of the Lord wooing me and calling me to Him.
Now, as a fifty-three-year-old grandmother myself, I recognize how much the common conversations matter, and that I must remind my grandchildren that Jesus loves them. Every word, every hug, every Bible story all add up to a deep and irreplaceable opportunity to be part of their faith journey towards Jesus.
The little seeds of Truth we plant now can become oaks of righteousness for His Glory that will continue to grow from generation to generation. One day these little ones will be grandparents of their own families; I want them to remember my consistent conversations about what matters most: Jesus and a broom.