A couple of years ago Ruthie and I were travelling through Virginia, and as we entered the city of Fredericksburg we discovered it was the burial place of George Washington’s mother. Both of us are amateur history buffs so we searched till we found it. The site is not in a cemetery but in a single location dedicated to her life. But nearby we found something of even greater interest. It’s a couple of large rocks called Meditation Rock. Here Mary, mother of George, spent what she described as “countless hours meditating and praying” for her son and for the struggling government over which he would soon preside. It was not hard to imagine the correlation between her incessant intercession and his success in leading the new nation.
In the first 20 years of their marriage, Samuel and Susanna Wesley had 19 children though not all would survive infancy. (Incidentally, Susanna was the first of 25 children in her own family growing up.) Without the benefit of packaged foods or even a washing machine, Susanna developed a plan to secure her daily prayer time for each of her children. She would sit in the kitchen and pull her apron over her head and pray. Anytime the children saw her in this pose they knew they were to interrupt only in case of fire or impending death. Many of the Wesley children became major influences in early western Christianity. Charles wrote more than 6,600 hymns (many of which are still published in church hymnals everywhere) and John was the driving force in the establishment of the Methodist Church that helped change the world.
Ruthie, is the 9th of ten children. As she was growing up, her mother and father developed a daily ritual that involved spending time together praying for each of their children by name. All ten of the children became devout followers of Jesus and remained faithful to Him as long as they lived.
If you’re a member of my faith group you will likely be acquainted with the name Bietz. They immigrated here from Europe in the 1800’s and had nine children. As the family grew they all in turn fell deeply in love with Jesus, and committed their lives to serving His church.
Here’s a for-instance as to why that may have happened. Dad Bietz was a farmer and on a hot summer afternoon his wife asked their young son to take a drink of water to him as he was plowing the field with a team of horses. The boy hurried off on his errand. As he topped a rise in the lane he saw his dad kneeling by the plow. It was not an uncommon sight since it was a high-mileage plow and was often in need of repair. The day was hot and the horses were restless and obviously eager to get on with the task.
But as the boy approached he heard his father talking. To the horses? he wondered. But soon he realized dad had stopped the plow, knelt in the field and was praying by name for his nine children. Middle of a big job. Hot day. Kneeling in the dirt… Telling the story later the boy recalled that he had the sense he was standing on holy ground.
I don’t want to over-simplify my observations…it’s not an if/then formula, but I’ve read enough biographies to discover that many of those who have made a significant difference in their world have memories like I’ve just described. Not all, but many. Enough to realize a pattern here.
And enough that I want to make sure I leave that kind of legacy for my kids and grands.
By Don Jacobsen