For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:32)
Upon awaking and pulling myself out of bed yesterday morning (April 29, 2014), I stood looking at the bed itself. It was not my bed rather the one my grandparents had shared for the duration of their 58 year marriage (nearly 60 years together). The moment hit me like a wheelbarrow of bricks, tears springing to my eyes and my heart sinking in my chest, with the realization they would never sleep there, together, again. My grandmother, bound to the sectional sofa in the living room due to illness and arthritis…my grandfather collapsed and died in front of her, a week prior.
They would never again share their marriage bed and I, their eldest granddaughter was given the privilege of sleeping there, by my grandmother, upon my arrival to Ohio to contend with all of this. I stood there frozen in thought and emotion, then I finally broke the hold this realization had on me… My heart broke for my grandmother who was in shock over watching the love of her life, her constant rock and companion, die before her eyes as she sat there feeling helpless. It broke for my grandfather, knowing all he had faced over the past few years, and that the last thing he wanted to do was leave his bride.
We always thought grandma would die first; he was supposed to be there taking care of her as he always had. What I figure is that the thought of losing her to the disease she’d just been diagnosed with a week before, after losing all of his remaining siblings in the few years prior, was too much for his tender heart to handle. His cause of death, on the funeral home’s report, was stated as probable myocardial infarction. In conversation with her yesterday afternoon, I discovered no one had bothered to tell grandma this bit of news.
Unfortunately, all of this is not what has bothered me the most about the scenario. No, it was something else that pierced my soul upon receiving the call about his death. I was pretty certain my grandfather did not have a relationship with Christ Jesus; his salvation was questionable and this is what disturbed my peace. If it had been my grandmother, there would be no question because I know she held onto Jesus…we talked about it over the dining room table just two years prior. She had shared it with me in several letters after sharing my news about re-committing my life to Christ in 2009.
What I found out in the days after arriving, even at the visitation service for my grandfather, deepened my pain over this. You see, growing up I had seen unopened “Watchtower” publications stuffed into a dresser drawer; I had in fact inquired to my grandfather about them to which I received little explanation. He told me what they were and that’s about it. He explained that my great-uncle, his brother, was a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) but he never shared anything else.
I had wondered over the past few years why, if my grandmother knew the Lord, in a family that so desperately needed God, He was never spoken of. My great-grandmother (grandma’s mother) was a devout Believer but I never knew my grandmother was until she told me via letter. Then, as I was talking to my grandmother over the past couple of days, she revealed something about my grandfather I didn’t know: He too was a JW.
She told me a story about the one time this Christian bride went to a Kingdom Hall with her husband, saw how an individual was treated there (being ostracized for un-attendance) and told her husband she would never go back to church, especially not that one, ever again. Hence, a lifetime of keeping her belief, her faith, to herself in respect for her husband’s religious choice, despite his not returning either. I found it ironic that the night after this discovery (which came about after I had invited her to attend church with me that Sunday) I had been awakened in the middle of the night, led to specific scripture (Deuteronomy 12 and 13) without understanding “why”…then led to pray against a spirit of idolatry and an anti-Christ Spirit over the house.
The dynamic of that home, my grandfather’s behavior and personality, was brought to light before me in an instant, by God, after receiving this tidbit.
Ironically, my boyfriend was raised in the same exact church my grandmother refused to step foot in; the same one my great-uncle pastored. Our families, our lives, intertwined in a way that showed us that either way, God could have put us in one another’s paths (we went to the same schools growing up)…
The irony deepened at the service as my great-uncle’s daughter, who knows my boyfriend and his family, sat behind him. I saw them talking. Then, a close cousin of my grandfather’s stood to speak, and upon beginning stated clearly that my great-grandparents had been Jehovah’s Witnesses. Well, that too was news to me! It’s probable that my boyfriend and I both tensed up at the same moment, upon hearing this, and realizing he was not up there preaching the Gospel. You see, in the past couple of months, after a lifetime of struggling to discover the Truth, my boyfriend had finally been given the courage by our Lord Jesus to formally disassociate with the organization after accepting Christ. Making this decision meant his parents were required to basically disown him as he is now considered an apostate by the church. Tell me…would God condone this?
Can I say how grateful I am to my grandmother for standing in her own convictions and not allowing this “religion” to be what we as a family were exposed to…I’m saying it – thank you Grandma!! Understand, I’m not judging the people who participate rather the false doctrine they are exposed to.
So this brings me back to the unfortunate state I began in: was my grandfather brave enough, when God gave him the chance upon his last breath, to accept Christ? Was my grandmother strong enough to lead him to salvation before he died? Had my letters proclaiming Christ touched his heart enough to want to know Jesus for himself? I will never know and this makes my spirit weep.
The loss of my grandfather is compounding, as my grandmother has lost her will to live; especially now, knowing she is facing cancer without her husband by her side. I’ve been praying the Lord will restore her desire, perform a creative miracle in her body and loose her from the bondage of guilt she is in over not being able to save my grandfather’s life. I would like to believe that God knew my dear grandfather (he and I had always been very close), who had his own health issues, just couldn’t take any more heart-break. God therefore offering him the Hand of THE BELOVED, and he was showered with that amazing promise of healing for both him and his wife. Thus allowing my grandfather to finally receive the rest and peace, he so desperately needed.
I say it often: God never ceases to amaze me! This past week (which I’ll detail in another post, another time) He certainly had me in awe at every turn, right down to answered prayers to keep severe weather away. It held until the moment the grave site ceremony ended yesterday and then rain slowly sprinkled down upon our heads.