Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Learning from My Mistake with Grandpa

Though Grandma never missed a Sunday, Grandpa rarely went to church. The only time he graced the doors of the building were when we'd ask him to come watch us sing in the kids' choir. Not once did I hear him speak of God, either in a positive or negative light. He didn't mention Him at all.

So when he laid in a hospital bed dying of cancer I wondered about his eternal home. Did he believe in Jesus? Did he know how to get to heaven? Had he been told? My doubts wore on me, causing me to ask God for a chance to speak with Grandpa privately. This would take a miracle, as Grandma hardly left his side and members of my large extended family dropped in on him constantly. But I prayed anyway, knowing God could do anything, but thinking it improbable.

Leave it to God to make the impossible happen. Against all odds I found myself alone with Grandpa one afternoon. On entering the quiet hospital room, my heart beat in my throat. I knew immediately God answered my prayer and I was far from ready. A million thoughts raced in my head. What is the best way to bring this up? How do I ask him about God when we've never talked about Him before? How could I, an 18-year-old girl, tell this 70-year-old man who'd lived through years of trials, the meaning of life? How would he ever take me seriously? How could we have this discussion when we'd never talked about anything at length? What could I tell him?

Feeling uncomfortable, Grandpa kept shifting in his bed, perfectly representing my own inner uneasiness. Words failed to escape my mouth. Time passed quickly and soon I had to leave. Saying nothing.

He died a week later.

At his funeral I gazed at the casket, wondering where he was, dealing with my guilt. God miraculously gave me an opportunity to have peace in this moment when He granted my request for time alone with my grandfather, but I chickened out. I ignored His nudge. For twenty-eight years I've wondered.

Where is Grandpa?

Lucky for me the Lord redeems our failures. He causes ALL things to work together for our good. He reminds me the job of drawing people to Him is not mine. Only He can adopt a person into His family. He can use me, but is not dependent on me. I missed the boat when alone with Grandpa, but his eternal salvation is not in my hands. Only God can do that. I choked and will have to answer to Jesus for that some day, but my efforts (or lack thereof) did not determine my grandfather's eternal resting place. I missed the blessing of knowing where he is and the privilege of an intimate, important conversation, but I didn't sentence Grandpa to hell by keeping my mouth shut.

Do I regret it? You better believe it. But since blowing it years and years ago, such an awkward moment as the one in his hospital room has presented itself a few times. Do you think I repeated that scene, walking out without saying a thing? God took my mistake and turned it into motivation to do better the next time and the time after that and forever. Remembering my failure gave me the courage to approach the subject with others, including my father. In the same way Jesus redeemed Peter's denial of Him by asking him if he loved Him three times, God redeemed my error by allowing me to have the discussion with my dad I wanted to have with my grandfather.

God is good, even when we fail.

What burden do you carry from your mistakes? Admit it to Jesus and release it. Could He be using it to motivate you to greater good?

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