Gratitude in Serving

2020 is a year we won’t soon forget. Obviously, there’s the five letters: COVID. Yet, the year has also been marred by civil unrest and record setting wildfire and hurricane seasons. In such a time as this, we appreciate what remains constant in life.

Amid the tenuous state of these days we can be grateful for what we do have. With the grave losses so many have experienced, we are reminded not to take for granted the gift of family. Recently, we celebrated the birthday of a brand new—and world’s greatest—septuagenarian, my mom! The occasion affords the opportunity to reflect on what she means to our family.

Mom is so many things: a teacher of God’s Word, a dynamic speaker, a committed wife, and a dedicated mother (and grandmother). We thank God for her, celebrating her life and grateful for all the years she has built into ours. Growing up, Mom spurred us on in every pursuit, whether school, sports, music, or church. In each avenue of life, Mom embodied the voice of encouragement. She often instilled confidence in us by reminding us with these words from Colossians:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (3:23–24, NIV)

But above all, she taught us to take pride in and enjoy our pursuits. If we lost interest in a given venture, Mom emboldened us to put our energies elsewhere and explore other avenues.

Those who know her well know how she has a way of bringing out the best in everyone. She remains a vital voice of reassurance in our lives today, and now also for our children. Grammy is a celebrity to our kids. They dart to the phone when she calls, constantly remark about how she knows just what toys to buy them, and ask incessantly, “when’s the next visit to Grammy’s house?” Yet foremost, Mom has been an inspiration to our faith. It was in praying with her as a child that I asked Jesus to “be the king of my life.”

To this day, she has not wavered in being that guiding voice of encouragement, wisdom, and God’s love. Let us give thanks, even in this season of life, for the people who have built into our lives and spurred us on to serve from the abundance of our heart.

Published by Paul J. Palma

Paul J. Palma is a professor of Christian history and theology at Regent University. His new book, Italian American Pentecostalism and the Struggle for Religious Identity, is part of the Routledge Studies in Religion series. Paul is a contributing writer for and the Pneuma Review. He enjoys spending quality time with his family, whether on walks together, going to the beach, fishing, or work around the yard.

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