Joan’s skin was wrinkled and loose, her eyes faded until Lauren began to pray. Then her cracked lips began to speak and the light came back into her eyes. She placed a hand on Cooper’s head, a 90-something year old and a 4-month old meeting for the first time. For twenty or more years, her prayers had been said every day for my husband, his family, for us. Just days before she died, we had the privilege of hearing those prayers aloud, spoken with her hand on my daughter’s face. My daughter whom she had prayed for, without seeing her until that moment.
Even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and I will save.
Lincoln has a saying lately that I hope I will always remember. “I love you, Mommy,” he says, “and I will love you all the days.” His own way of saying that he’ll love me forever. A similar phrase popped up in Psalm 71: “My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.” (v8, also v 15 , 24) In these verses it means more throughout the day, but then comes this verse, which brought to mind the Isaiah verse: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to those to come.” (v18)
I think of Joan on that Sunday morning, prayers on her lips. I think of Lincoln, my three-year-old who wants to love me all the days. Bookends, parentheses—one at the end and another just at the beginning. Though my children won’t remember Joan, her prayers touched their lives and proclaimed His might to the generation of my children. And also to my generation, to me.
I am thinking today of legacy, of proclaiming God’s might to another generation. I caught a glimpse of His faithfulness at the bedside of this old and beautiful woman, seeing how in her old age and gray hairs, He sustained and carried. I love knowing that she is in His arms now, face to face. Though I had never met her until that day, she prayed for me, for my husband and my children. So many more prayers than I have offering, being kind of a prayer flunkee. Without ever meeting my children, I believe that her prayers, all the days, have proclaimed that power to them. Prayer is a mystery like that—touching the inner places, surrounding us like a beautiful vapor curling up into our hearts.
I think of my legacy: on a good day, I remember to pray. For my children, with my children. Verses may be on my lips to share, my patience fueled by time spent with Jesus and the whisper-thin pages of my Bible. On most days, it’s running on my own strength, running ragged. I still feed, clothe, keep everyone alive, but what legacy am I leaving? What am I proclaiming?
I want to remember all the days and to speak all the day. Every day and all the day long, like Lincoln and like the Psalmist. The much bigger bookend to my effort is God himself, sustaining and carrying me through the successes and the failures.
May my words and my love last, proclaiming a love that lasts and sustains, even to old age and gray hairs.