Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Life, in Far Too Few Words

"The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them." -Stephen King

My grandfather died on Sunday afternoon.

Although I understand that death is a natural part of life, and I know he was very sick, and I know he lived a long and full life, it still doesn't seem possible that he is gone.

My grandfather was the godliest man I have ever known. He read his Bible every day, without fail, sometimes for multiple hours. He loved Jesus more than anything and he talked of little else. He was deeply concerned about the spiritual condition of every person he met. His prayer life can only be described as a continual conversation with his Savior. He carried every sorrow, every worry, every doubt, and every fear to the Lord. In humble gratitude, he lifted praises to God for every provision, no matter how small.

Loyal and dependable, quiet and humble, my grandfather faithfully provided for his family in every phase of his life. He and my grandmother were married an incredible 68 years this past March. A model of true love and commitment, they weathered the storms of life together. Each one of us has benefited from the example of family life they set. In his daily prayers he called the name of every child, every grandchild, and every great-grandchild. Long before I even knew what a prayer warrior was, I had one interceding for me.

Words are not adequate to describe the man he was. Everything to him was an act of worship. His love for humankind was evident in every conversation and people were drawn to the love of Christ they felt through his words and actions. When in good health, he humbly served the "least of these" without a desire for recognition. The church was his second home, and he could often be found there, quietly serving the body of Christ. As his health declined, he continued to serve others through his kind and gentle ways. He made an impression on everyone he met.

His pastor summed it up perfectly during the funeral service. "Roy Gilbert set an example we should all follow." High praise, indeed.

As soon as I heard the news of his passing, my eyes filled with tears. Not tears of sadness, although they would certainly come later. My initial emotion was joy. My grandfather spent his entire life looking forward to the day he would meet his Savior face to face. The realization that he was even in that moment reuniting with family and friends who have gone before him brought precious comfort to my grieving heart. He ran his race; he fought the good fight. I can only imagine the joy my sweet grandfather experienced as he heard the words he had so longed to hear, "well done, my good and faithful servant."

What a bittersweet time this is to lose a loved one. As we said a final farewell on Christmas Eve, I thought of future Christmases when we will remember these difficult days. I am so grateful to know that my grandfather is at peace, eternally resting in the everlasting arms of our Savior. I am grateful to know I will see him again. His legacy lives on in his family, his friends, in me. In reflecting on his life, I am inspired to more faithfully follow his example. As long as I am on this earth, I will try each day to proclaim the truth of God's love through my actions and my words. And when this life is through, I will once again hug my grandfather's neck and hear him say, "welcome home."

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