The Current | January 16, 2001

Battle ends in ultimate victory for one warrior

by Josh Renaud

Grandma Becker was a warrior in her own ways. She was certainly a prayer warrior. Before I left to go to Israel after Christmas, she told me she was a little concerned about the trip, and that she would pray for my safety. One of my cousins said he thought I was crazy to go there in the midst of all the violence.

Israel was safe and the trip was fantastic. But one night I thought about my cousin. He's a nice guy, but he likes to tease. I worried that he might try to scare Grandma.

I called her from the hotel basement after a few nights to tell her I had been to the Old City in Jerusalem, and that everything was fine. I think it was New Year's Eve, though I'm not sure. I could hear a party in the background, which is standard for that side of the family. They have lots and lots of get-togethers. She was glad that I called. Every day, she said, she was praying for my protection. And she knew I would be taken care of. I couldn't stay on the phone long. But I'm glad I was able to reach her.

When I got back to St. Louis, the first thing I did on the way home was drop off my film to be developed. I knew I would be at a friend's party and people would want to see them. I also knew we were going to see Grandma that weekend. Her cancer was pretty bad by then, and family members from all branches of the tree were coming by to see her, perhaps for the last time.

I spent some time sharing my pictures with her, trying to express the things I had seen and experienced on the trip without overwhelming her or talking too long. As we talked, she leaned farther and farther to the left, slightly contorted until finally she adjusted herself. She didn't say it, but I knew her back hurt. She was fighting the pain. She was a warrior.

And, oh, how she loved Jesus. So strong was her assurance, so solid her faith. Her eyes lit up when I told her about Jerusalem and Galilee, and the Jordan River. I described the realization that hit me as we drove along the Sea of Galilee. All at once, the story came to life. I could see Jesus crossing the sea in a fishing boat with his disciples. I wish she could have seen it, seen the very places she read about everyday in her Bible, come to life at last.

The irony is, she's pulled one over on me. After we were done looking at the pictures, I remembered about the spectacular New Jerusalem the Bible describes, and I mentioned it to her. It's a place I've read a lot about and now she's seeing it. I'll just have to wait for my turn.

When my turn comes, I hope I can face reality as bravely as Grandma Becker. She was a warrior, after all.