I am so blessed to have “grown up in the church.” I have been exposed to Christ and His Church all my life but thinking about and remembering back to when I first knew and really believed that Jesus loves me is not the same as mere exposure. My thoughts took me way back to my very earliest memories of family. My dear mother is third from the youngest of seventeen children. A beautiful story of Love and Faith and Trust grew between my grandparents who first came together as two hearts broken by the death of a spouse. Two families with small children whose lives were shattered became one incredibly close family. Most of my aunts and uncles grew up to be faithful, dedicated members of the Lord’s church. Many of the men have been elders and deacons and many of my aunts and uncles have taught Bible classes at their respective congregations.
What an honor to have such precious memories! What a joy it is to look back over my growing up years and relive the sweet memories I have of attending worship services with both sets of my grandparents. The lessons I learned as a small child will be with me all my days on this earth. Those memories remind me how important it is that I be an example, a teacher, a precious memory for the little ones growing up in my family. To be an example of Christ’s love is how I want to be remembered by my family.
My Grandma Houser always had a piece of Wrigley’s spearmint gum, a white embroidered handkerchief, a pencil and a notepad in her purse for me so I could occupy myself quietly while the minister preached a sermon I didn’t understand. Her tapestry-covered purse snapped loudly if you weren’t careful when you closed it. From observing the quiet smile my grandmother wore throughout the worship service I learned as a child to be still and reverent as she was while the word of God is being taught. I Timothy 3:8-15
My Grandpa Gibbins had a wonderful, booming bass voice and I still get tearfully happy every time the song leader calls out, “Shall we stand and sing all verses of Standing On the Promises.” I remember my grandpa standing so tall beside me like a tower of strength. He sang that song as if he wanted to be sure God in heaven could hear him because he was singing that song to let God know that he had complete faith in every word. I believed every word of that song as a child because my Grandpa Gibbins showed me what it meant to sing with the spirit and the understanding, and make melody in my heart to the Lord. Hebrews 2:10-13, I Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5: 18-20.
So many sweet aunts and uncles and loving cousins have influenced my life and touched my heart. The passing of some have left a great void. They each instilled in me the desire to raise my own close-knit family and teach my children and grandchildren the importance of family…immediate family, extended family and the prayerful need to have them all in the church, the Family of God.
I learned at a very young age that the B. I. B. L. E. was a Holy Book written for me to study and learn but it had fragile pages and I was not allowed to play with it. I learned that Jesus Loves The Little Children of the world before I was old enough to read the Bible. I learned that Jesus Holds The Whole Wide World safely, gently and carefully in His scarred hands long before I was given my very own Bible.
I remember frequent visits to attend worship services with my grandparents in a small country church that was filled with happy people. I sat in the same small Bible class from the time I was a toddler through pre-school. The teacher was My Aunt LaVesta who smiled brightly, sang sweetly, made sure she touched every little face and patted every little back. She taught Bible lessons with her large worn Bible laying open and flannel board characters stood magically before us but it was her animated actions and dramatic facial expressions that brought the stories to life. She taught the children’s Bible class for thirty-plus years and instilled the knowledge of the love of Jesus in so many tiny hearts. What a precious, priceless servant she always was. What an influence her memory is still to so many.
I am all grown up now and it has been many, many years since I visited that congregation and sat in that little class. Those days are a precious memory now for me and my many cousins. Looking back has awakened me to a new appreciation for the need to bring the little children to the lord and teach them. Luke 18:15-17 If you teach a nursery to pre-school age Bible class I hope you know what a powerful influence you are or can be to the soul of a child. The love and joy and comfort you give to every child as they walk through the door into your open arms will show them and teach them the most important lesson of all: The Love of Jesus. I John 5:1-3, I Corinthians 13:10-13, Matthew 22: 37-39.
Will your students someday say they First Knew that Jesus loves them because you told them so? I First Knew that Jesus Loves Me because my Aunt LaVesta told me so!
By Darlene Beeler | Freelance Writer
Darlene Beeler is a Christian woman who enjoys Bible research and compiling scripture-based lessons for Women’s Bible Classes and Workshops. For more information, please write to her C/O Farmington Church of Christ, P O Box 358, Farmington, AR 72730