Monday, May 11, 2015

Little Queen of Sheba

My great-grandmother was one of those quiet God-fearing people. As a heathen, I never really knew about her faith and never really conceptualized it. We didn't go to church together. We didn't talk about God. I learned a few old hymns on the piano for her, but to me, it was just music. These were just songs. 

Despite all that, my quiet God-fearing great-grandmother was speaking Truth over my life. It would take me another nearly twenty years to understand that.

You see, she always called me her "little Queen of Sheba." I always thought it had something to do with the big plastic purple glasses and bedazzled white purse I'd don with some dress-up high heels and gaudy costume jewelry. I always thought she was calling me a little queen, a small royal, someone of high and dignified stature. Some queen of some made-up place, some weird-named made-up place called Sheba, which would have been, I think, the only thing my great-grandmother would have said out loud to me that was made-up. 

If it actually was. 

As I've grown older, come to faith myself, and embraced the stories in the Bible, imagine my surprise to find that this Queen of Sheba was a real character. She was a real person. A real queen, sure, but her story is more than that. 

The Queen of Sheba travels long and far to see King Solomon. She has heard of his great wisdom and comes bearing extravagant gifts in order to hear a few nuggets of it. It's really quite the entourage she travels with. You can read about her in 1 Kings 10. 

The more I read her story, the more I think about my great-grandmother. She wasn't the type for fantasy, for fairy tales. She said what she meant and meant what she said, and I can't help but think that when she looked at me in those big plastic purple glasses, bedazzled white purse, dress-up high heels, and gaudy costume jewelry, she was looking right past those things and seeing something deeper. I was a peculiar child for sure (attire aside), but I can't help but wonder what she really saw in me.

I can't help but think, all these years later as I grow into my own faith, that my quiet God-fearing great-grandmother looked at me and saw a wealth of gifts that I would bring into this world. It's a sentiment I've heard often over the years - from teachers, from friends, from members of the congregation, from patients, from get the point. There have been a multitude who have complimented me on my gifts over the years, but only one who dared make them extravagant as these. 

And I can't help but think, too, that behind those big plastic purple sunglasses, my great-grandmother saw the eyes that were already searching for wisdom, that would come to a position in life where she would do whatever it takes to find such wisdom. And I've heard that often, too. That I am a young woman thirsting for wisdom, and possessing some measure of it, and that this is what makes me so dear to God and so blessed in my ministry. 

I don't say these things to toot my own horn. This is not meant to be a post about my gifts nor my wisdom, in whatever measure I may possess either (and the rumors have been grossly exaggerated). This is about what it means to be the kind of person who quietly speaks Truth over someone's life, whether they understand it or not. 

This is about the gift my great-grandmother has given me in these words.

I was privileged to grow up for a little over 10 years with her. She was an incredible woman who I am humbled to have had such time to learn from and to love. And I remember the way it used to make me feel when she'd call me that special name - her little Queen of Sheba - even though at the time, I didn't know. I didn't know that I wasn't the only queen of this funny-sounding land. I didn't know that this wasn't just some made-up great-grandma stuff. 

The older I get, the more it makes me feel that way - that way I used to feel with her - when I think about these words. When I think that when my great-grandmother looked at me, she saw more than just a little girl. She saw someone like this character in her beloved stories - someone with a wealth to bring into this world, someone who would seek wisdom at all costs. And I hope...and I pray...that in some small way, I've lived up to that. 

Today is the day after Mother's Day, 2015. It also would have been my great-grandmother's 108th birthday. So it seems today is an apt day to share this story, and to also say this:

Speak over someone's life. Tell them the stories. Tell them the truth. Say something meaningful about who they are. You never know when those words are going to come back to them in richest meaning, in beautiful grace. Your words may seem to be so small now, but you're planting big seeds. You're giving someone something to hold onto in themselves. In God. If you have the words, use them. As Toby Mac would say, speak life. 

You may never understand the incredible gift you're giving them.

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