Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself... (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)
As I read these verses, I can’t help but think of my grandmother. Freda Breneman was never perfect in this life—after all, who is?—but if you were to watch her for very long you would realize that she was more than a goody goody or Sunday morning church goer. There was a genuineness to her faith in Jesus Christ and a changed life to show that she was God’s workmanship.
I remember her unassuming nature—in other words, her humility. Grandma did everything with excellence: cooking, sewing, cleaning, spelling—she was an incredible speller—and yet, there was no put-on or arrogance. She could have just spelled “formulaic,” “obversion,” or “tangential” for a certain middle school kid and not have thought anything of it. This simple farm girl from Felton was just being helpful.
I also remember her sweet spirit and bursts of joy. Grandma did not have any easy life; however, there was something that overrode all the disappointments and heartaches of the difficult times. That “something” wasn’t
willpower or superhuman strength. Instead, it was a God-given perspective on life: life’s rough and short, and through Christ’s death as her substitute there was forgiveness of sins and an abundant life. And Grandma realized that Jesus had guaranteed to one day wipe away every tear and right every wrong.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I saw a selfless and sacrificial love in Grandma. Let’s face it, the best we can do on our own is to love those who love us back. Human love is a love of convenience. But for the one who has experienced the transforming power of God’s love, he or she is then able to do the unnatural like loving an enemy or giving everything when there’s no getting in return. Because Grandma was a new creation in Christ and had experienced His redeeming love, she also was able to show some of that same love. Grandma worked well into her
seventies, not because she needed the money, but because she wanted to be in a position to give to others. Our own children will never forget how we would always come away from Grandma’s house loaded down with enough food to feed an army.
One of the shortcomings of mankind, at least for me, is that we fail to reflect on the impact that one life has had on others until moments like this. Grandma Breneman was a fabulous lady and she will be missed by many. However, she would be the first to admit that she had no room for bragging about accomplishments. Instead, she would have given credit where credit is due, as she is do ing this very minute, and that is to thank and praise her Lord, Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ.