Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Life Between the Lines

One week ago today, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to my grandmother. We celebrated her 92 years of living with laughter and tears. She possessed equal amounts of sass and class, and I was honored to be her granddaughter.

By most standards, my grandparents lived an ordinary life. He was a farmer; she, a homemaker. After his father passed away and an older brother was struck with a debilitating illness, he dropped out of school in the 8th grade to assume the responsibilities of the family farm. They married not long after her high school graduation, and my dad was born a year later. He was stationed in Japan during World War II, leaving his young wife with a toddler, and a newborn. In the years following his return home, two more children were born. Together, they loved the Lord and served His church faithfully. They set an example for their four children, eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren, as well as our spouses and their small community.  They were the kind of people I aspire to be.

My grandparents never focused on being missional; they helped when they saw someone in need.

They didn't have great theological debates; they read their Bibles and discussed their Sunday School lessons.

They didn't concern themselves with engaging people; they struck up conversations because they enjoyed getting to know others.

They didn't share their private lives in order to appear authentic; they respected and protected each other and their family.

They didn't talk about Biblical manhood and womanhood; he plowed the fields and brought three sons alongside him as soon as they could manage the work, while she kept the home and trained their daughter to do the same.

When either of them used the words radical, relevant, or journey, they certainly weren't talking about their faith.

Even though it's been nearly 15 years since my grandfather died, I haven't forgotten the text his pastor chose for the funeral.  That cold February day, he read 2 Samuel 3:31-39 and shared how his heart was full with David's lament, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day..."  I dare say most, if not all, people who knew my grandfather felt the same.

Last week, the pastor selected 2 Timothy 4:6-8 to remember my grandmother. He shared how she was an encouragement to him, a young pastor, even when she was unable to attend church. They would talk about the Sunday School lesson during his visits, and she exhorted him to remember his calling. Indeed, my grandmother fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.

My grandparents weren't in full-time ministry. They didn't seek public platforms or look to do "big things for God." They simply lived out each day according to Psalm 16:5-6:
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
There is much talk these days about living the extraordinary life. Somewhere along the way we've forgotten that while God is extraordinary, we are extremely ordinary. We've forgotten than when we grumble about our ordinary lives, we grumble against the God who sovereingly placed the lines around us. We've forgotten that what lies between those lines is a gift from the Lord and we are called to be good stewards of it. My grandparents understood this truth, and that is is the greatest legacy they could have left for me.

Every Christian is an ordinary Christian, and every ordinary Christian is a radical Christian. The ordinary Christian is not a complacent, passionless, nominal, or casual Christian. On the contrary, every ordinary Christian person—child, teenager, college student, father, mother, husband, wife, single man, single woman, retired man, and retired woman—every Christian is radical because every Christian is united to Christ by faith and will bear radical, life-giving fruit. - Burk Parsons (source)


  1. Thank you for passing part of this legacy along. It has provoked me to consider how I can be a better steward.

  2. thank-you for beautifully simple/ simply beautiful reflection. I have struggled with the mindset that in order to be an effective Christian, one must pursue ever greater goals and destinies. I have often wondered how that balanced with the multitudes of 'ordinary' folk, who in their quiet ways go about the Lord's work and yet can be made to feel like they never 'achieved' or 'arrived' It is often those, the ordinary kind of folk that have made the greatest impact on my life and inspire me to a life of quiet passion, in His service.

  3. So sorry for your earthly loss, Melissa. How precious it is to know that your grandparents are with the Lord in glory. You have honoured them well in this tribute. What a godly heritage you have! Isn't it just an amazing thing to day, the Lord will call us Home as well?? Hugs to you! Camille