Wednesday at 3:00 pm, after class, I called to see how my grandpa was doing. He had died an hour earlier. Several months previous he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. There was nothing that could be done, so he declined to stay in the hospital. Since then, he slowly deteriorated until his frail body could no longer sustain itself, and on Tuesday, September 26 at 2:00 p.m., he breathed his last.
The last week has been somewhat of a blur. Chuck and Glenda visited us Wednesday through Friday morning. Early Friday morning I got in the car and drove 11 hrs to Newcastle, Oklahoma and spent some time with family at my uncle Sam’s home. Saturday at 2:00 p.m. was my granddad’s memorial service at FBC Seminole, followed by a reception. Sunday and Monday involved spending time with both friends and family, and then Tuesday morning I jumped back in the car. Two coffees and three Monster energy drinks later, I am back home in Louisville. The drive home gave me some time to reflect on the funeral, and all the conversations that had taken place in the past few days.
As I think on my grandpa’s life, I confess I feel somewhat like the apostle John when he says that if all Jesus did were written down, all the books of the world couldn’t contain it. While I wouldn’t go that far, I can say that if I were to write down everything I thought about my granddad and the many things he did in life, this blog post would be far too long. Regardless, what follows are a few of my reflections thus far:
1. My grandpa was gospel centered. I was saved under the faithful preaching of my granddad. Many share this testimony. Whether through preaching from the pulpit or personal evangelism, my grandpa was constantly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing was about him, it was always about Jesus and his atoning death on the cross. I think this is because my grandpa realized that apart from Christ, he only deserved condemnation. He was amazed at God’s mercy and grace and love demonstrated through the cross of Christ. And this he proclaimed.
2. My grandpa was meek. There was a gentle spirit about my grandpa that is difficult to describe. He was never boastful or proud; haughty or rude. His kindness was evident and it was contagious. Though some people associate meekness with weakness, my grandpa was in no way a push over. In fact, he carried himself in a way that commanded respect. He was firm and bold in his convictions, yet gentle and humble in spirit. Like I said, difficult to describe. Perhaps Shai Linne says it best when he raps this about Jesus: “the uniqueness of his meekness is too deep to speak, and if you think meekness is weakness try being meek for a week.” (I know my grandpa appreciates me using hip hop to describe him :)) My grandpa’s rock solid convictions, bold proclamation of truth, yet gentle and kind spirit are attributes all Christians should imitate.
3. My grandpa relied on Christ. I’ll never forget several years ago I was at my dad’s office in Seminole, and my grandpa was working in his little office in the back. I walked back to see if he wanted to go to lunch, and as I made my way back, I heard him talking…only, no one was with him. That just illustrates the difference between us. He was praying out loud to Jesus, who was there with him just as real as anyone else could have been there with him. However, it was the nature of his prayer that I’ll never forget. As I listened, I could hear the pain in his voice and the desperate pleas for help to make it through the next moments of that day. I knew my grandpa was in pain, but he never let on as to the extent of it (any time I asked how he was doing he always replied, ‘I’m up and going!’), but that day I caught a glimpse. His pain was such that without the overwhelming peace and strength of Christ, he couldn’t take the next step. My granddad truly relied on Christ for each passing moment. When I got his attention he looked up, smiled and came to lunch.
4. Finally, my grandpa walked with God. I guess all that has been said so far can be grouped under this last one, and I’m not even sure I know exactly what I mean by it. You didn’t have to spend much time with my grandpa before you knew he had been with the Lord. Perhaps my friend Sarah said it best when visiting our church one day when, as my grandpa walked by, she said, “he has God written all of his face.” Anyone who spent any amount of time with him knows what she meant. My grandpa was a man who walked with God daily. Through constant prayer and the reading/memorization of Scripture my grandpa enjoyed an intimate relationship with his maker that many never experience. He indeed could be called a friend of God.
There is much more I could say. Perhaps I will in the next few days. Of course, my grandpa would most certainly object to this post. He was not one to draw attention to himself, however, I believe men like my grandpa are testimonies to the grace and mercy of God, and those are things he did want to draw attention to. Hebrews 11 sets forth an amazing list of faithful followers of God who were testimonies to his goodness. So too my grandpa’s life testifies to the kindness of our God, and the love of Jesus Christ. In looking at his life I am pointed to Christ, and I desire to be all the more faithful to the God who creates and sustains all things. I am ever aware of my faults and failures, but when I think of my grandpa I am reminded not of where I fall short, but of the grace of God who preserves his children to the very end. The very end when I will see my grandpa again. Until then, Soli Deo Gloria.
Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7.