Up until the fall of 2017, all four of my grandparents were alive. It is now the winter of 2019, and both of my dad’s parents are no longer with us. Last Saturday was the memorial service for my granddad, and today I spent the majority of the day with my mom’s mom. I call her Nanny.
During my time with Nanny today, I couldn’t help but feel truly blessed by my grandparents and their influence in my life.
But when I say blessed, what comes to your mind? At my granddad’s memorial service, a man shared that he recently read a book about interpreting scripture from a Western perspective. He shared how the word “blessed” in the New Testament is never connected to material prosperity. And he said that, in the truest sense of the word, Grandad was a blessed man.
But why did he say that about Grandad? If it wasn’t for his material prosperity, what else made him a blessed man? Was it fortunate circumstances? A successful career, a healthy and happy family, and a quick and easy death?
What is blessing? Vaneetha Risner puts it beautifully. She says, “Scripture shows that blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. Anything that helps us relinquish the temporal and hold on more tightly to the eternal. And often it is the struggles and trials, the aching disappointments and the unfulfilled longings that best enable us to do that.”
My grandad loved and laughed, but also cried and hated. He was flawed and broken, and the Lord worked powerfully through his weaknesses.
He was an alcoholic absent dad transformed more and more into the image of Christ. He was saved from himself, and the evidence of God’s grace was all over his life.
To me, Grandad was gentle and easy to be around until he lost his memory. My dad called me on a cold winter night in January as I sat alone in my college dorm to tell me that the grandad I knew no longer knew me. I was nineteen. Now, I’m twenty five. The last six years of my grandad’s life were confusing and difficult, but it is often the confusing and the difficult that draws us closer to Jesus.
In the truest sense of the word, my grandad has been blessed because the Lord brought him near through all the circumstances of his life. And I truly am blessed through the lives of my grandparents, because all of them have pointed me to Jesus, prayed for me, and loved me. I know Jesus better because of them and Christ’s work in their lives.