The Abram of Owensboro

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  –Genesis 12:1

In 1938, my great-grandmother came to Louisville from Owensboro, Kentucky, to find a job.  She came here for two reasons, really: because her mother had read in Owensboro’s paper that domestic jobs in Louisville were paying $8 a week—far better than the standard $3 a week in Owensboro—and because God told her to go.

“‘Go,’ he said.  And I started packing that night,” she recalls.

“I asked Mama would she keep the children while I went to Louisville.  She thought I’d gone crazy.  ‘Molly, you don’t have any money.  You don’t have no way of getting there.’  Mama, the Lord will provide.”

“How did you know it was God telling you to go?” I asked.

She explained her discernment as a thought that comes out of nowhere and won’t let you go.

As someone who has always had trouble recognizing the “Voice of God” and distinguishing his will for my life from that of my own, I’m amazed by her faith and her certainty.

“Is that you, God, or am I having delusions of grandeur?” I ask my Creator often.  I have so many thoughts and they’re so far away from the present situation: publish books, produce plays, act in them, travel the world, make my business ideas work.  LA and New York City are full of country girls with big dreams, but bookstores (or the electronic devices to which people now download books), movie screens, and Broadway Theaters are not.  Yet it’s been my thought—or his thought?—my wish/dream/fantasy/goal off and on since I was a child.  So sometimes the thought does let me go, but it always comes back.

Domestic work in Louisville at $8 a week was my great-grandmother’s Broadway, and the Lord did, in fact, provide.  A man she had never met before bought her a ticket for the trip, gave her cab fare to get to the train station, and told her to stay with his sister once she arrived in Louisville.  The man told her he did all of this at the Lord’s instruction.

I’m critical of old-time religion at times.  I like questions, but I like answers even more so, and blind faith, unless you count faith as the answer, doesn’t always give them to me.  But as Abram went, so did this tiny, 33-year-old woman who had never left her country roots.  Her legacy isn’t legendary, but her obedience is biblical.  And her gift of discernment is beyond my current capacity.

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