On the wall of my guest room there is a picture taken around 1925 of a little boy in a blue outfit sporting a mischievous grin. He is my mother’s baby brother, James Oscar Pike, who died of meningitis shortly after this picture was taken and not long before his second birthday. I grew up hearing my mother tell how devastated my Grandmother Edith was after losing this young child to death. Like my grandmother, throughout the ages mothers with empty arms have wailed, “Why? Why did You take my precious child, Lord?” Those questions may never be answered as long as we walk the earth. Sometimes, though, I believe their work on earth is finished in their short life. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2). How, you may wonder, could a child less than two years old have finished the work God sent him to do?
During her time of grief, according to my mother’s account, my grandmother paced up and down the dirt path in front of their big sprawling farmhouse, lifting her eyes heavenward, crying and wailing in heart-wrenching sobs and asking that age-old question that many mothers who have lost children ask. In pain that only a mother who is missing a child can understand, my grandmother begged God to restore her little boy’s life. During this time God revealed to her that her baby could not come back to earth, but she could one day go where he is and she would see him again. “This is my comfort in my affliction…” (Psalm 119:50). Up until this time my grandmother was not living the life of a Christian—a fact that surprised me, knowing what a godly woman she had become by the time I was born—but she accepted Christ’s free gift of Salvation and raised her remaining children and the little ones that God later gave her in a Christ-centered home. They became faithful members of Whaley’s Chapel near Richlands in Jones County, and when at last God called my Grandmother Edith home in 1972 her memorial service was held there.
Shortly after Grandmother Edith’s death the family gathered together to sort through her meager earthly possessions. Her worn Bible was a testament to her relationship with God. Her sparse jewelry included a pin in gold script that read, “Jesus Saves.” When we got to her purses we found one after another that contained scripture tracts. She had kept a ready supply to use to plant the seeds of Christ’s love to those people that crossed her path to whom she felt led to witness.
The story doesn’t end there, however. Because of my grandmother’s obedience in accepting Christ in her life during this traumatic time, and in raising her family in faith from that point on, she produced a houseful of God-fearing adults who went on to carry the Good News to their families and friends. Her youngest son, George Earl Pike, became a minister. Several of her children went on to play key roles in the Kingdom of God on earth. Many people have accepted Jesus as their Savior because of a seed planted by one of Grandmother Edith’s children. Where would these people have ended up had the story not started with little James and his grieving mother’s cry to the Lord? Where would I have been today if my mother had not led me to the Cross of Jesus after being raised by this Godly woman?
Death is never easy on the living, especially when one is taken so young. One thing we can be assured of, though. Those who have been saved through Grace will have eternal life with Jesus in Heaven, and all the little ones who left this earth so soon will be there with us, including a little boy dressed in blue.