I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith,
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness
These last few days have been nothing if not manic. And in the middle of it all, we as a family lost our eldest member. Grandad, who was 93 in April, died last Wednesday. He was my last grandparent, which makes it feel all the more significant.
He and Granny had lived in a wonderful care home for some years, and one of the staff was reading Psalm 30 to him as he died. He had missed Granny terribly since her death, and he was growing increasingly frail. He simply yearned to be home with his Lord. The staff at the home tell us that his death was incredibly peaceful.
I’ve written in the past about having a ‘goodly heritage’. Granny and Grandad were absolutely central in that. They prayed faithfully for us all with staggering frequency. Grandad had served in the mission field, both at home and abroad. He’d visited India numerous times. As for home mission, mention a town in England and it seemed that there was a good chance he’d preached there at some point!
My brother and I were baptised together on October 20th, 1990. It was in the pool (technically, an ‘un-covered water tank’, because of regulations about pools) of a Catholic family in Islamabad, Pakistan. Full immersion, baptism in the Church of Pakistan, and darn cold – the water was fractionally above freezing. It was Grandad who spoke at our baptism. I want to just mention a couple of things he said. They reflect so well our common faith.
He spoke of privilege, joy and responsibility. He must have been 70 at the time, and knew all three to be important aspects of our commitment to Christ.
He said this:
You see, what Timothy and Nicholas will be saying is, “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord”. And they’re saying it not just in their heads, but in their hearts and with their lives. They are declaring the faith and they are declaring their faith.
How important it is to make sure our lives and our mouths are singing from the same songsheet. I am immensely grateful to Granny and Grandad for the example which they set their children and their grandchildren in this area.
He was also keen to point this out:
…you are together testifying that you are giving yourself not only to the Christ, but to the Christ of the church and the church of Christ. And you are demonstrating that you want to play your part in that church. Remember that.
He served the church faithfully, at home and abroad. And we are called to, too. How easy it is to forget, though. How easy it is to think to myself that Christ is worth being with but his followers are not. And yet, as Grandad pointed out, through baptism, we joined an amazing, worldwide, wonderful fellowship of forgiven sinners. I’m one too.
A few weeks ago, back at Big Church Day Out, I was discussing with Joshua, our six year-old, the fact that Great Grandad really wasn’t very well at all, and that he might die soon. We talked about the fact that this would be a time that was a bit sad and a bit happy. Sad, because we would miss him and wouldn’t be able to visit him any more, but happy, because he’d be living with God. I told Joshua last Wednesday that Great Grandad had died, and he was fairly matter-of-fact about it. At bedtime prayers, Joshua prayed, “please help Grandad to have a good time in heaven, as he gets to know you better”. What an amazing truth – we look to a day when we will not just meet our heavenly Father, but actually get to know Him better.