By Pastor Steve Pinnick
My mother, Lorena Marie Carney, died on February 7th, 2018. I have decided to dedicate this article to her, and to the legacy of faith she left behind.
She was born on a small farm in Indiana. Her mother (my grandmother) was also a strong Christian. Speaking at my mother’s graveside service, I found Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:5 to be as fitting for this moment in my own life as they surely were to Timothy at a critical time in his: “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”
My grandmother and mother both had a genuine faith. But I believe my mother turbocharged the faith she was given by her mother.
She was a woman who was dedicated to reading her Bible and to “praying without ceasing” for her family. She was more than a tither, giving above and beyond her tithe all of her life. She had a faith that claimed all of her family would be saved. This faith has been tested over the years, as there are still some who are not saved. But that never stopped her.
One story is told of how she prayed for years that my aunt and uncle would be saved.
“I’m not planning on getting saved,” my aunt told her early on, “but if I do, you will be the first one I call.” Twenty-five years later, my aunt called Mom first to tell her that she and my uncle both got saved.
Among the many other stories, my own is worth noting. I spent several years away from God, involved in drug addiction and many other sins, yet she never stopped praying for me. I know that is why I am saved today.
Shakespeare said, “Good wombs have born bad sons.” That was me, yet she always believed that one day I would be a good son. One thing that always stuck with me throughout my sin and rebellion was my mother’s genuine faith.
It’s one thing to have faith. It’s another to have genuine faith.
It would have been easy to fight the conviction of the Holy Ghost if I saw her faith was compromised or shallow, but a genuine faith is hard to ignore.
One of the things I spoke to my family at the service was that we had all received a genuine faith from our mother, and that there was a responsibility associated with that.
Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).
Some of you who are reading this right now may have family members who are away from God. I know what it is to have a child go astray, and the torment of spirit and mind that are associated with it. My challenge to you is to keep your faith genuine and never stop praying for those who have strayed.
Your greatest hope rests in a miracle-working God who is faithful to His people.
As many in the Church are aging – myself included – one important admonition is that we maintain a genuine faith. Paul tapped into this when he admonished Timothy to stir up his own faith and gifting.
The good thing was that Timothy had reference points in both his mother and his grandmother.
On another note, nothing is said about the spiritual nature of Timothy’s father. That means that even if you are a single parent, or unequally yoked to an unbeliever, your faith can shine through and have impact in your family.
In 1 Cor. 7:14,16, we read: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy... For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?”
A genuine faith will leave a legacy that cannot be ignored.
As I spoke for my mother that day, I shared this comment made by a woman regarding her own mother who had also recently passed away: “I notice that even after the sun slips from the horizon, the sky is still lit up,” she said. “It’s a little that way for us left behind here. She is gone, but our world is still illuminated by the traces of her presence left behind.”
So it is with every believer who dies in the faith. The legacy they leave behind continues to shine long after they have gone.
I feel honored to have inherited a genuine faith. I am going to do all I can to live that faith out and leave it for my children and grandchildren.
My mother was also a prolific poetess. Allow me to share with you one of her poems.
When I put off this earthly house I’m going to be set free,
For I have a house not made with hands,
Waiting in heaven for me.
Sometimes I get to yearning
As I ponder what’s ahead,
Things I have to look forward to When this body I shall shed.
As I enter that glorious city... Oh, what a lovely view!
For He that sits upon the throne Said, “I make all things new.”
The walls are made of jasper
And the streets transparent gold
The foundation garnished with precious stones
So lovely to behold!
Then there’s the river of life, Flowing out so pure and clear,
With trees on either side
And the luscious fruit they bear.
I’m sure there will be flowers
Of every lovely hue,
And there will be so many things That I will want to do.
I’ll want to spend a lot of time With loved ones I hold dear,
The ones I haven’t seen since They left the earth down here.
We’ll have reason for rejoicing,
For we have so much to gain,
For you see, in this great city, There’s no tears, no death no pain.
Then, when I meet the Master, How with words can I convey
The awe that fills my being
As I reflect upon that day?
His glory shall transcend Anything that we can see,
Oh, what a joy it is to ponder What is waiting in heaven for me!
Praise God, she waits no more!