Today, I want to tell you about someone who made a difference in my life; my Aunt Julia. My maternal grandmother came from a large family, among which, three of her sisters were preachers. One of them, my Aunt Julia, was a minister for over 50 years and a pastor for most of that time.
I remember being around seven years old when she came to see us. My mom was almost killed in a serious car accident. After she came home from the hospital, my Aunt Julia drove two days to come and check on her. I sat at Aunt Julia’s feet in the middle of the kitchen floor, spellbound, as she talked to my mom about God. They always had a lot of discussions about God when she came to see us. She made Him seem so wonderful. Everyone would listen intently as she spoke. She was known as a powerful woman of prayer. She prayed and people were healed, blessed, and delivered. Sometimes she would even tell us things that God had revealed to her about us. My folks love to tell how she had described the house they were to build, many years before they even thought about building a house. They tell about how many years before she had said that my parents were going to have a son. They did; sixteen years after my only sister was born and I was a senior in high school.
I remember how my aunt would turn and look at me and say that God had something special in store for me, a special work for me to do. As a little one, born at a time in history when children were considered to be invisible in the presence of adults, my Aunt Julia’s words made me feel that I mattered to God. I remember going to my room as a seven year old, falling on my knees, and asking God to come into my heart, to give me wisdom, and use me. I wanted to be just like Aunt Julia.
So you can imagine my amazement when God allowed my daughter, Michelle, and her husband to go to L. A. to stay with my Aunt’s only daughter for almost a year. By this time, my Aunt was also living with her. It was a blessing that my children were able to get to know my Aunt Julia in her twilight years and to help her daughter care for her. At the time, Aunt Julia was 96 years old. Although by this time she suffers from dementia, when it comes to talking about God, Aunt Julia can still sing a stirring hymn with power. She will readily tell you the importance of living for Christ, loving each other, and living right. And just when you think that she may be about to ramble, she will say something profound that will touch your spirit and you can see the old Aunt Julia coming through.
My daughter has grown to know my aunt and to love her. My Aunt is my daughter’s ‘sweet baby.’ Sometimes, my daughter would call me and then say to my aunt who’d be sitting at their kitchen table, “Okay Sweet Baby, sing me a song.” Although it usually took a few minutes to convince her, my daughter would start singing first, and then I’d hear Aunt Julia chime in, singing an old favorite like, “Jesus is on the Main Line.” I couldn’t believe that my aunt, even in her nineties, still has a very strong, beautiful, alto voice.
My daughter said that she believed that God sent them there because she needed to hear the words that Aunt Julia spoke to her when she climbed into my aunt’s bed for their evening chats. Aunt Julia looked forward to every evening when Michelle would come home from work and they would play together, sing together, and Michelle would shower her with kisses. My cousin said that Michelle spoiled her mom.
Then one day, Aunt Julia’s daughter had to go out of town. She asked Michelle and one of my mom’s first cousins to take care of her Aunt Julia until she returned. It was during one of Aunt Julia’s times when she was talking about God that she had Michelle and my cousin to join her in prayer. As she was praying, they were agreeing with the things she said. My daughter called me later and said that everything was going just fine. Aunt Julia was making perfect sense. That’s why what she said next took her by such a surprise. Aunt Julia said, “And Lord, bless us and keep us….
in the foot.
My daughter said, in the foot, Aunt Julia?” My cousin and daughter immediately began saying other words and asking her if these words were what she had meant to say instead. Aunt Julia insisted… in the foot. That did it! My daughter said that all of a sudden she became so tickled that she burst out laughing. (Have you ever had one of those moments when a tickle fit comes over you at the most inopportune time?) Of course my cousin, who is in her fifties and was raised up around my auntie, and had seen her when she was strong and well, told my daughter not to laugh. That only made it worse. She said she tried, but she couldn’t stop laughing.
As she recounted the story later to me over the phone, I could hear my aunt’s serious voice in my head saying, “in the foot.” Michelle and I finally decided that somewhere in her mind, Aunt Julia knew what she was talking about. More importantly, God knew.
I know the story has both humor and sadness in it. Nevertheless, I hope that I will never forget it. In fact, I was driving to work one morning this past week and talking to God about some challenges I’m facing right now, when all of a sudden I was at a loss for words. Then I remembered my aunt. I said, “Lord, please keep me. I couldn’t resist it. Yep, I said it, “in the foot!” The phrase just seemed to fit perfectly. It fit better than silence and it fit better than anxiety. I started to chuckle and I felt better. I asked my Heavenly Father to let “keep me in the foot” stand for all of the unspoken requests that I had in my heart. You know, all those times when I just don’t know what to say, but I have issues in my heart and concerns on my mind.
Okay, I know that I can’t say that when I’m praying in public, nor will I make it a habit. But when I’m alone and I remember my Aunt Julia and her love for God, I know that my using her unusual prayer to reflect my own inadequacies and my trust that God can do the impossible is alright with God. He is not hampered by my inability to find the appropriate words to say. He knows and answers prayer; even prayers like ‘keep me in the foot.’ The Words says that the Holy Spirit takes our prayers and interprets them, aligning them with God’s will for our lives.
When you have your own ‘in the foot’ moments, I am not suggesting that you pray ‘keep me in the foot.’ Rather, remember that God sees your heart and knows even your silent requests. He cares watchfully over you in every season of your life; just like He’s taking care of my Aunt Julia. It’s wonderful to know that even when our minds are so diseased or injured or foggy that we can’t even pray coherently, God hears and understands. He sees our hearts.
By the way, last week my parents went to an annual celebration they had for my Aunt. She’s now ninety-seven and more frail. Her great-granddaughter sang a solo at the luncheon, then someone came up to have remarks. Afterwards, there was silence. My parents said it was so quiet in the room that you could have heard a pin drop. Then, from across the room, everyone heard a beautiful alto voice singing a hymn. My Aunt Julia was singing! Later, they discovered that after her great granddaughter finished singing, she had told someone that she thought she’d like to sing a song too. They brought her a mike and everything else was history. When she concluded, Dad said that applause broke out all over the room. Everyone was ecstatic and amazed at how beautifully she still sang and how God continued to use her to move hearts!
My friend, you may never get to meet my Aunt Julia before she goes to her heavenly home, but you can meet her Creator. He is faithful. He’s taken care of her all these years, and He will take care of you too.
Until next time, be blessed! Appreciate your mind and the ability to remember and think. The ability to pray is not a gift to be taken lightly. Pray often. Jesus says, “pray without ceasing.” It’s a powerful way to enjoy the journey!
A scripture to help you on your journey:
Romans 8:26 So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.
© 2009 God’s Perspective Publishing