Joel Beeke is a pastor from the USA who is also a theological teacher and prolific author.
In this series of four posts he writes about the legacy of Johanna Beeke, his mother, recently deceased at the age of 92.
Post 1: Prayerful.
I also remember overhearing a conversation at a church gathering, where an elder approached Dad to ask him, “What was the secret of your child-rearing since all of your children have come to know the Lord?” I will never forget his answer: “The grace of God and their mother’s prayers,” he said.
But you didn’t hear about that from Mother herself. When she turned 85 I asked her, “Mother, if you could live your life all over again, what would you do differently?” “Oh dear,” she said, “I would pray more.” That answer was so convicting—and enlightening. I have long noticed that the more we as believers are graced with God’s particular graces, the more we will feel how little we have of those very graces.
Mother’s prayers also encircled her dear grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great grandchild—all 128 of them.
Post 2: Lover of Scripture. (I read this to our Care & Concern group the other day)
Near the end, she would sleep twenty hours a day; her four hours awake were entirely devoted to eating and reading the Bible. What a witness she was to all who took care of her! Once I was thinking, “Why does the Lord still keep her alive?” Then, I heard one of the great-grandchildren said, “Grandma is such a witness to me. All she does is read her Bible.”
When my wife asked her at her 80th birthday, “Mother, do you have any advice to give about how to handle children when you feel frustrated? How did you handle that?” Mother thought for ten seconds, then smiled sympathetically, and said, “I’m afraid, dear, that I just can’t recall ever getting frustrated with them.” Now that answer (which by the way, really did not help my wife) didn’t mean, I assure you, that we were all such good kids, but because the grace of God sanctified her character, in her tongue was “the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26). Perhaps that grace also sanctified her memory, so that she knew what to remember and what to forget!
Mother always seemed cheerful and content—in fact, so content that at times it frustrated me. If something bad happened to me, and I would come to her for pity, she would often respond by saying, “It could be worse.” One day this was too much for me: “But Mother,” I said with great irritation, “you can say that about everything.” “That’s right,” she calmly replied, without a hint of irritation, “it always could be worse because God never gives us things as bad as we deserve.” “But Mother…” I protested. Calmly she interrupted me, quoting Paul: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” That text stopped the pity party in a moment.
Mother, by Christ’s grace, developed not only holy habits, but even natural habits that revealed a simple, almost naïve, purity. She was disciplined not only in her Bible-reading, but also in her eating habits (to a fault!), disciplined in her daily walks, disciplined in her daily routines of exercise. She was still exercising her arms and legs only a few months before her death. Everything about her life seemed so organized, so simple, so pure, so clean, so sweet, that it seemed like the aroma of Christ exuded from her.
I thank God that by His grace, He gave me a mother whose life displayed the fruit of the Spirit.
The legacy, the heritage, the mantle is now passed on to us. We now become the older generation. Time waits for no one; no mere human being is the master of time. Sooner than we know, someone will be conducting our funerals. May we, by God’s grace, be found worthy of such a legacy, and faithful in receiving such a mantle. Mother left her mark on our lives, all of us, and the best monument we can raise to her memory is to follow her as she followed Christ, and extend her influence to many other lives, and to the generations to come.