The service was beautiful, honoring a much-beloved man who served his congregation, his family, and his community. It was during the reception that if anyone wanted to say something they could. However I think the mood indicated the service was over and now was the time to fellowship with old friends and family. Only two people got up to speak. Although my daughters wanted me to read the following, it just didn’t feel right. I later told his widow that “if the reception had been more formal, I would have spoken. I put what I was going to say in our card. You can read it in private.” I told my MIL about it and was almost able to recite it word for word. “You wouldn’t have had a dry eye in the place,” she said. “Yeah, the Chief told me ‘Well written. Good luck getting through that.’ The mood had changed and the time wasn’t right.” My MIL agreed, “She’s a private person. She can go through the cards and shed a tear or two alone.” Almost everyone who spoke today brought up G’s smile and his love of the children. My FIL, who gave one of the official eulogies, mentioned what G meant to our family–officiating two weddings, loving the children, being part of the family. “He was part of the subterfuge to get me to repeat my wedding vows on our 25th anniversary and I suspect he would have tried again for our 50th next year!” He never wanted to slow down. Just days before entering the hospital for the final time he was desperately trying to be at my MIL’s surprise 70th. He will be missed.
I have known G forever. And his words and lessons from God’s Word will live on forever as his legacy. I remember G coming to the house to study with my father. I remember Dad’s baptism, my sister’s, my brother’s. Obviously my own baptism where G looked at me, took my confession and with such confidence accepted it from someone just 10 ½ … and he told me every decision from that point on, from where I went to college to the man I would marry would be based on that decision. I may not have always followed that, or thought of that, but God never forgot. This was so important to me that I asked G to include it in our wedding ceremony.
It doesn’t end there—those words, that understanding that just being led to the water is only the beginning, guided our talks with T1 and T2. As I sat on the hills of camp talking with T1—because of the two she holds her thoughts close to her heart—I asked her about the baptisms we had seen that week and I asked her if she understood becoming a child of God meant never being alone and committing to walking with Him through life. By the end of the week she made that decision. I call her my multi-congregational child—[representing at least 4 different congregations while being baptized at camp]. G’s words were never far from my thoughts as T1 and I talked, as I talked with the Chief, as I talked with Barry.
T2 was another story—I think she would have jumped in the water herself. We actually had to slow her down. It was important that we do in-depth study with her to help her understand those same lessons. When she came to us with tears in her eyes knowing she was lost without Christ, I knew her confession could be taken with that same confidence with which G took mine. G may not have baptized them himself, but his legacy goes on through all those he’s baptized even by proxy.
I spoke to G on Father’s Day, sharing with him news of what God has given me. He held my hand, touched my face, gave me that wonderful look of confidence and said, “It was all in God’s time.” He looked at my girls standing with Mugga, smiled and said, “You have a beautiful family.” I’d like to think that is because on the inside they are carrying the lessons of God’s Word, shared with them by G and all their grandparents and church families. Blessed are all the children who can claim G as their Papa G (and Mugga too!).
God is faithful and G, a faithful servant, will be missed and cherished in our hearts. I look forward to seeing G’s kind and open smile and confident look in his eyes as he stands with Jesus in heaven welcoming us home.