Friday, July 08, 2005
A final goodbye to my grandmother: A Reunion
Today was our first full day in California. Six of my eight siblings have made it back to California for my grandmother's funeral. Today we were able to spend time visiting with each other. My dad also gave us a walking tour of the area that included La Verne college where he and my mom went to school. We also saw the church where my grandmother's father pastored. His final pastorate was the La Verne Church of the Brethren. This is a picture of the original church building. This is also the church where my father was baptized and where my mother had her graduation ceremony.
We also shared lunch and dinner with my grandfather at Hillcrest retirement home where he resides. Here is a picture of my grandfather and my father. My grandfather is 90 and was saved before he and my grandmother were married. He is both the natural and spiritual patriarch of our large extended family.
There were two stories that my grandfather shared that really gave testimony to his faith and love for our Lord. He told us that he was able to preach at his sister's funeral. About ten years ago, my grandma and grandpa started visiting and ministering to his sister. Every week they would make the long journey to his sisters house and spend time with her and help her out. Tough as it was, at times, a burden to them, they wanted to show her the love of the Lord. She had became angry at all men because of the actions of her late husband and she directed that anger at God the Father as well. One day, God came to her and said, "I come to you with love and you come to me with hate." These words broke her heart and she gave her heart to the Lord. My grandfather was in tears as he related this to us and as he remembers the joy he felt when she came to the Lord. For five years he and my grandmother ministered to her and, shortly before she was to pass away, she found the Lord. You could see not only my grandfather's love for his sister but also his joy in knowing that one who was lost found life in Jesus.
My grandfather's favorite hymn is How Great Thou Art. He shared with us that many times, when the reality of my grandmother's passing has been the hardest, he has closed his eyes and worshiped God with this hymn and it has brought him such great peace. When faced with the pain of losing his bride of 70 years, he is reaching out to God for strength, help, and grace. He is not bitter, but he is hurting, and in his pain, he is finding comfort in the Lord. Listening to him I learned a great lesson. No matter what life brings our way, in the good times and the bad, we must never stop reaching out to the Lord. Our Father loves us and is forever near to us to help up. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalms 46:1