“Amy was different, though. Her faith was continually visible. She was never pushy or over the top, but she talked about Jesus a lot. Like, a whole lot. She always had a Bible or some book about the Bible within reach and would jump at the chance to tell you about what the Lord was showing her in her reading (she still does this!).”
I have two spiritual heroes, and neither of them have theological degrees. They haven’t written any books, nor do they have huge social media followings (or even Twitter accounts, for that matter). Their preaching isn’t known around the world because, well, they don’t preach. In fact, they aren’t even men.
Amy and Beth — my aunt and grandmother, respectively — are my heroes in the faith. Amy is a part-time medical professional slash full-time mom of boys, and Beth owns a little store and a herd of cattle (full of spoiled cows she’s given names!) in the country.
Though, in this world, these two women live what some might call mundane lives, I expect to see them highly honored and crowned with unspeakable glory in the world to come. Amy and Beth are warriors for the gospel. They would never describe themselves in such terms, and if you commended them for their faith they would humbly inform you that their faith is terribly weak. But these two women are far from frail in the Spirit. For two decades, long before I believed in the truth they cherish, I witnessed these women continually clothe themselves in the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:14) and live lives that are worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).
Amy’s infatuation with Jesus always baffled me — until I came to share it, that is.
I grew up in the Bible Belt and was plenty used to people “having faith” — you know, that religious stuff you believe but keep to yourself. Nearly every person I knew believed the Bible was God’s Word and that it described Jesus accurately as the Son of God and Savior of the world. But they didn’t talk about their beliefs much on a day-to-day basis. Their faith-life was confined to the four walls of the church they attended semi-regularly.
Amy was different, though. Her faith was continually visible. She was never pushy or over the top, but she talked about Jesus a lot. Like, a whole lot. She always had a Bible or some book about the Bible within reach and would jump at the chance to tell you about what the Lord was showing her in her reading (she still does this!). Any time anyone had an issue — including “behavioral issues” among us kids — she would stop whatever she was doing and audibly pray about it. I saw her pray for people constantly. She prayed for me constantly. I could not, and still cannot, think about Amy without thinking about Jesus, too.
Beth’s life has always been characterized by simplicity — her faith being no exception. She is one of those people that I would describe, in a non-critical way, as having “blind faith.” She so quickly and firmly believes whatever God says! If she reads something in the Bible, then it is as true as the sky is blue, and an angel from heaven couldn’t convince her otherwise. Over the years, I remember Beth telling me numerous times that God is responsive to prayer and faithful to his promises. She can’t articulate the doctrines of grace or define theological terms like “soteriology,” but her faith in Jesus Christ is something she has always walked out in her daily life. She believes God loves her, and she entrusts herself entirely to him.
I have yet to experience a loving kindness so pure and unwavering as that which pours from the hearts of these two women toward me. When every nook of my life contradicted every cranny of their Christian faith, neither flinched in their affection for me. I began partying hard and engaging in homosexual behavior in 2008. They didn’t approve of my behavioral patterns, but they continued to express both their love and their faith to me.
Amy and I never had a conversation explicitly about my sexuality and lifestyle choices until after I converted to Christianity in late 2010. But because I unashamedly broadcasted my life through social media, she was very much aware. She would send me messages on MySpace, telling me that she loved me and was continuing to pray for me. She encouraged me to pray, as well. She gently, but often, reminded me of the goodness of God and said living for him is the best way to live.