My Nanny died last weekend. I was in Adelaide speaking at a conference so I got to see her the night before. We’re currently in Adelaide for the funeral. My family ended the death notice in the paper with my Nanny’s own self description, that she was ‘Completely His’.
The thing is, that if you knew my Nanny, you’d know that her behaviour didn’t often match her faith. Of course, the Spirit was working in her life. Her conversion at age 59 was one sign of that. And she showed an incredible capacity for repentance. She read her Bible daily and she prayed with deep dependence and honesty before God.
But by and large, it didn’t take long before you could see Nanny’s brokenness pretty clearly. She was vain about her physical appearance (hence the flirting with much younger men); she was conceited about her own holiness (To my father: “I’m a much better Christian than you!”); she was an expert emotional manipulator and tantrum-thrower. It wasn’t uncommon for people to ask me in hushed tones if she had dementia, because her accusations against others were so outrageous. Yet, she was in full possession of her faculties and according to her sister, she’d always been like that. Her inappropriate behaviour wasn’t just a development of old age.
I don’t write this to be disrespectful to the dead but rather because I think at some level, we’re all like this in life: riddled with sin, selfish and self-obsessed. My Nanny was just too insight-less to hide it, as most of us are very good at doing. But I think her very obvious failings mean that the grace of God is all the more on view. The better you are at covering things up, the less likely you or others are to see your own fallenness. But with my Nanny, it was so clear that if she was going to be saved, it was by grace alone.
As it is for all of us. We are all only ever ‘completely His’ because he takes us and holds us in the palm of his hand. Our sin, God’s grace – his glory.
Praise God that he alone saves.
Praise God that he starts transforming us now.
Praise God that as Nanny’s life taught us deep truths about God, so also in her death, she testifies to his goodness and grace.
Praise God for the assurance of my Nanny’s glorious and complete transformation, her brokenness melted away so that as she testifies to being ‘completely His’, the reality of that is obvious to all.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.