Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanks, Grandpa.

"I didn't accomplish much in the eyes of the world, but the Lord and I are on pretty good terms."

The words brought tears to my eyes as my 94 year old grandfather spoke them.

I make no bones about some of the deepest desires of my heart.  I know myself, and I know what is down there.  I want to accomplish much in the eyes of the world.  I really do.  I want, not just to be a good pastor, but a pastor who is recognized as a great proclaimer of the Gospel; a tremendous advocate for the Christian faith; a builder of congregations to where they are full and overflowing.  I want to be recognized as a writer and apologist of the faith--who makes a generous salary by his working and who can enjoy some of the pleasures of life while generously giving of what I received to others, so that I can again be recognized as generous.  I want to be noticed for what I do, what I proclaim, what I say, what I write, and so on and so forth.  I know this about myself deep down, and I also know that such desires oftentimes run counter to what Jesus actually calls His disciples to do and be.

This January, I will turn 40.  For some, it's not a big number, but given the average age males live to, it's pushing half of my life.  Taking stock of things, I realize that I am well known in my particular neck of the woods, but according to worldly eyes, I haven't accomplished much.  Don't know that I actually will.

Part of me grieves to say that.

Really.  I am not joking at all.

"Put your finger in a bucket of water, and then take it out.  That's probably all the difference you will actually make in this world."

I didn't want to believe that statement, but given the scope of things in the world, it's a pretty honest statement.

"I didn't accomplish much in the eyes of the world, but the Lord and I are on pretty good terms."

Grandpa didn't make this statement filled with any sort of haughtiness or pride.  It was the statement of one who served God, served Jesus Christ for his life.  He preached the Word in several places throughout the United States of America, always at rural congregations none of which grew to tremendous size.  He spent hours gardening and taking produce to his congregation members who needed fresh vegetables.  He visited the sick.  He kibitzed with parishioners.  Raised four children.  Was a devoted husband.  None of these things moved mountains or brought about justice and peace on earth.  None of these things brought about perfect harmony in the towns he lived or ensured congregations he served were free of conflict.  He didn't climb any ladders.  Didn't accumulate boatloads of wealth.  He has to watch every penny as he tries to manage with arthritis and the weakness of muscles that living 94 years brings.

But he doesn't complain about it.  He doesn't get worked up about what he can or cannot accomplish.  He has come to a place of peace.  He knows that his time on earth is relatively short.  He knows that there is one surpassing value--a value which will last forever: his relationship with the Lord.

"I didn't accomplish much in the eyes of the world, but the Lord and I are on pretty good terms."

I teared up when Grandpa spoke those words because this is where I want to be.  In my estimation, those words are filled with wisdom as they grasp what is truly important.  I have begun to pray, "Lord, take from me the desire to accomplish much in the eyes of the world.  Through Your grace, I know we are on good terms, and that is enough."

Thanks Grandpa.


Anonymous said...

I want to grow up to be like your Grandpa and I'm seventy one. I think I've still got time.

Kevin Haug said...

I wish my comments section had a "like" button so I could like ^^ comment!