Friday, December 18, 2020
Stories of Grandpa Roy flow easily in my family. He was a disabled veteran of World War 2, so he had lots of time on his crippled hands. When we visited, he spent most of that time playing games. During the day he taught his grandchildren the nuances of cheating at cards. He was an excellent card player and didn’t need to cheat to win, but there was something very gratifying to him about catching the kids doing it. The laughter never stopped throughout the day. Our children still talk about him.
Grandpa Roy was crippled with psoriatic arthritis which manifested itself in his first year in the military. He received a medical discharge. He would scrape the crust from his skin with his jackknife. It was not the same knife he passed around as needed for opening presents.
His feet and hands were severely crippled. When Denise and I first met I remember him working hard around the house as he was still able to carefully use some power tools. That ability ceased as he grew older. But his ability to persevere never did. Unfortunately, his pride in being able to do everything for himself stood as a hindrance to him seeing his need for a Savior.
Fifteen years ago our family celebrated our first Christmas without him, but in contrast to the grief we felt it was a joyous time.
Several years earlier, Roy’s heart needed repair. He had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. In WPW an extra electrical pathway between your heart’s upper and lower chambers causes a rapid heartbeat. The condition, which is present at birth, is fairly rare. It had gotten serious for Roy. He needed a procedure done that was risky for him.
During the procedure, his heart stopped. The procedure ended after his resuscitation. The next day, as the doctors planned to try again, I spoke with Roy privately about his heart condition. Not WPW, but the heart condition of sin.
I asked him if he understood what happens after death. He said he knew about heaven and hell but wasn’t worried. I asked him if he had ever repented of His sin and received the forgiveness of God in Jesus. He said no, and that he had no sin that needed to be forgiven. He ended the conversation.
Fast forward several years following a successful second attempt to correct his physical heart problem. The spiritual heart condition still needed resolution. Roy had developed pancreatic cancer. It spread quickly. Soon he was confined to a bed in his home under hospice care. Denise and I went and stayed with Grandma Ruby after Thanksgiving.
Three days before he died, while he was still coherent before the extra doses of morphine were needed, I asked him again if we could talk about life after death. He agreed. I reviewed with him his previous statement about sin and his need for forgiveness, and this time his answer was different.
“I need to be forgiven.”
As I fought back the tears, I prayed for him and then with him as He confessed his guilt of sin and received the forgiveness of God based on the work of Jesus on the cross. When the prayer ended, I assured him of resurrection to eternal life based on Christ’s resurrection. He smiled. I asked him if he understood. He said, “I’m ready.”
Grandpa Roy died during the early morning hours of December first. It would be our first Christmas without him.
It was his first Christmas with Christ.