Grandpa Ed

My Grandpa passed away on the morning of Friday, March 18th.  I’m writing this as we drive back down from Spanish Fork, UT, where we held the memorial service yesterday.

My Grandpa Ed married my Grandma Smitty when he was 54.  He inherited a big family and, after being a bachelor the whole first part of his life, I’m guessing he had no idea what he was getting himself into.  He had an incredible sense of humor, dry and quick, with a smirk and chuckle that made you feel at ease, even if he was giving you a ribbing, and we all loved him immediately.  He was our Grandpa…we never thought differently.  Grandpa used to give me handshakes, whipping my arm all around, making me laugh uncontrollably…something I turned around on him when I got a little older.  He was a man who had worked hard all his life but always found time for family.  We used to love traveling to Irvine to stay with Grandma and Grandpa…going to the beach or the waterpark during the day and playing Uno late into the night after Grandpa got home from work.

I loved my Grandpa and no one would have to tell me that he was a good man.  What no one seemed to know the full extent of, though, was that my Grandpa was a hero.  He had served in WWII…enlisting in the Coast Guard (because he was too short for the Marine Corps) and serving aboard a Navy ship as the coxswain of the landing craft that brought the troops ashore in North Africa and the Pacific.  His actions garnered him a meritorious promotion, which is obviously commendable in and of itself.  What no one in the family seemed to know, however, is that he had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal (the fourth highest combat award) as a 2nd or 3rd Class Petty Officer.  My military friends will appreciate the rarity of an award like that being awarded to so junior a sailor.  To put it in perspective, when the ship I was on engaged in offensive missile strikes against Afghanistan in 2001 the ship’s captain, a Navy Commander, was awarded the Bronze Star.  Grandpa was about 10 ranks below Commander .  I’m not sure what the award was given for and, while I would like to know, I don’t think it matters too terribly much…I am most impressed by my Grandpa’s humility.  As the minister at the service pointed out yesterday, my Grandpa was truly part of the greatest generation…a man who loved his country and family and always had a strong sense of duty.  He had so much to be proud of, accomplishments from his own life, and yet he always communicated how proud of us boys he was.  I hope to be that kind of man.

I would encourage each of you reading this to take a moment to call your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles…family.  All of us attending the memorial said yesterday how much we wished it wouldn’t take a death in the family to bring us all back together.  Life is busy, to be sure, but the eternal souls God puts around us for the few, quick years we have on this planet are worth more than we will ever comprehend.  I encourage you…myself…to remember that in the midst of the busyness.

Love you, Grandpa.  Fair winds and following seas…

syringe

I recently went to a doctor’s appointment with my wife, an appointment which involved her getting a shot.  The medicine was suspended in oil, so it was extremely viscous.  The needle itself, however, was very small gauge and it took a long time for the nurse to both fill it up and push it out.  She had to hold the plunger out for quite a while before the oil would come through the needle and when it finally did it was just a little drop at a time.  There was enough vacuum pressure inside that the plunger kept wanting to jump out of her hand.  The medicine is designed that way so that it is not absorbed by the body all at once…it’s meant to last a full week.  Interesting stuff, but I didn’t think much about it after we left the office.

That was on Friday…jump forward to Sunday where the sermon we heard boiled down to a simple phrase: To truly live, receive and give.  Sounds so simple, right?  And it is, or at least it’s meant to be.  But sometimes the process of receiving and giving isn’t quite as fluid as we would like.  In a way, we are like the syringe.  We plug into Jesus and his love pours into us…or, depending on what gauge we are (how willing, open and available we are to receive), and (like the plunger) how much we fight the flow of His love and Spirit, it can end up just being a slow drip.  Furthering the analogy a bit, the point of the syringe is not to hold the medicine…it takes it in only to later dispense it again.  The whole point of existence for the syringe is to receive and give.  In the same way, the Christian’s purpose, their way to abundant life, is to receive from Jesus and then turn and pour that love into others.  Receiving Christ without letting Christ flow through is like a syringe that holds its medicine.  What good is a full syringe?

Of course, it’s not a perfect analogy, because the process of allowing Christ to flow through you and into someone else is not really akin to a needle prick…or at least it shouldn’t be…maybe you’ve met a Christian who felt like they were sticking it to you.  But there are other parts of it that work.  For example, Jesus’ love isn’t something that you take in and absorb with full understanding immediately.  While it goes to work right away, and gives new life from the start, that’s just the beginning of its work.  It sticks with you, working its way into your being over long periods of time, having the lasting effect of healing and wholeness.

I love how God shows us pieces of himself in the mundane appointments of life.  And I don’t even like needles.