Thursday, August 28, 2008


7 years ago he passed away. My Papa.

I don't talk about my grandfather much...perhaps because of shame I feel over one of our last real conversations. Papa was trying to share his faith with me. I viewed his sincerity as weakness and his zeal as judgmental. And I rudely dismissed and ridiculed him.

I thought he spoke in arrogance...assuming his beliefs were the only right way. How dare he think that I wouldn't go to heaven? I was, afterall, a "good person" while he was the one being elitist and narrow-minded.

Months passed and in the wee hours of a midwest summer morning in 2000, Papa stood in my driveway and waved as I buckled into a Uhaul and headed west. It was one of the last times I would see him. My final memory of him was, during a visit back to IL, holding his leathered hand in mine as we sat at his kitchen table. Too weak to speak, he only nodded periodically as I made conversation.

Papa passed away shortly after I returned to CA, and I was unable to fly back home for the memorial services. Devastated, on the day of the funeral I sat on a deflating air mattress in my studio apartment and tried to "be present" with my grieving family. In a silence broken only by my sobs I imagined seeing Papa in his casket, laughing at stories told in his honor, and clinging tightly to those who shared my memories of him.

Little did I know that God would use the emptiness and sadness I was feeling to draw me to Himself. And that He would repeatedly bring to my mind the words my grandpa spoke that day as he shared his faith with me.

Now that I am a Christian I know that my grandfather wasn't sharing his faith in judgment but in humility. He was speaking from a heart humbled by the realization of being a sinner in need of a Savior. He wasn't trying to beat me down but to give me hope. And while I know if he were still alive we would debate doctrine til the sun went down, I truly believe that we would agree on the essential: Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, our Rescuer, our Hope, and our Lord.

The purpose of this long-winded, nostalgic post? I honestly don't know. But the other day my mom called me a "zealot" in terms of my faith (I'm sure she meant it in the most loving way!)...and it made me think about my Papa and his zeal on that night so long ago.

A "zealot" she called me...and rightfully so, I suppose. But so often the zeal of a Christian can be mistaken for condemnation and judgment and narrow-mindedness when, in reality, it is simply a response to the undeserved forgiveness, the endless mercy, and the incomprehensible grace that is daily lavished on a child of God. A truth I believe my Papa understood.


Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

What a great post. I am sure your Papa is no so very proud. Isn't it amazing how God has now given you new eyes and an even deeper appreciation for your grandfather? God clearly used this man in big ways!

stefanie said...

you were right. get out the kleenex.
i love you.

Tami said...

Very touching, and very well said. The seed your grandfather planted in you is now blooming fruitfully! I'm sure he's 'looking down' on you with a huge smile. I'm positive you, in turn, are planting seeds in many people, that in good time, will blossom with 'new life'. You're such a blessing. Praying you feel connected and a peace with many happy memories of your grandfather today.

Tracy said...

Great post! I know we have commented to each other before on this topic. I truly believe that the best thing to do is to share what is on your heart...the person may not accept it at the time, but in time your words will be heard!

kris said...

I KNOW he is smiling even bigger than I am right now, with tears in his eyes- the kind filled with joy-

what a beautiful post.

I am so glad you stopped by my blog even though it was for Lindsay's post :O) She's an amazing person.

Tracy said...

sorry to hear the news. Let us know if you need anything. and I mean anything!!!!

Rebecca said...

Wow, Tish... this such an amazing and inspirational post. I was all teary-eyed reading it!! One thing that kept coming to mind as I read was, "tapestry". How God weaves people in and out of our lives, and sometimes we don't see the significance until later, when we look back and see this beautiful design that was created. It's all in perspective. The hard part is realizing that we didn't appreciate those "threads" while we had them with us. I know how you feel... I also know that someday you can tell your Papa what his zeal meant to you!! Thanks for sharing this story.


Andrea said...

I really think our mom's were room-mates in collge or something.
Zealot-fanatical partisan. O.K. I'll buy that. I guess when it comes to Jesus, you probably don't want to be bi-partisan.
Keep those toes to the fire, Sister!
They always get mad,first.

My Great- Grandmother could Bible-Beat with the best of 'em. She had to offer me cake, so that I would sit long enough to listen to what she had to say. I wish that she could have seen me make my walk before she died...she did not. I was baptized 6 years after she died.
Sometimes when I think of her -I cry.
I miss her, but I mostly cry because I am ashamed of the way I acted when she tried to talk to me about God and where my heart was when I did try to 'act' like I was listening.
But she NEVER stopped trying... 92 years old when she died...still trying.
Maybe your Mom is just thick like I was..... or like you were.
I think your Papa taught you well. Just keep tryin' :0)


Tish said... are funny!

actually my mom is a believer! a year ago next month she gave her life to Christ! so her calling me a "zealot" was indeed in a loving way.

Andrea said...

That's Awesome!
I was ready to bust-a-move with the prayin'!

Maybe I can send you to my mom, then.
You can use your "Papa Skills" on her.
She thinks I'm crazy as a loon!
Not because I am a Christian( she is not, BTW)- Just because I am so "OPEN" and wanting to "talk about it".
I think she sees it as Pushy...can you imagine....ME?! Pushy?!


Hauswife said...

I'm sure he looks in from heaven and rejoices over your zeal! What a precious post! Thanks for sharing this. I can hardly wait to see my granddaddy in heaven someday soon, too...

Beverly said...

wonderful post. your grandpa def. knows where you stand now!!