The little boy walked into the simple kitchen. His grandma busy cooking and his grandpa reading the paper, the familiar smell of food filled the air as she greeted him as she did every time with, “Hello grandson.” She gave him a warm hug and everything was right in the world…
It had been an especially challenging week for the teenager. He dialed the familiar phone number and waited for her to answer. She answered with, “Hello Grandson.” He knew that when he hung up the phone all would seem right in the world…
Years later and now grown, he pulled his car into the drive in front of the house after the long drive to get there. Right on cue, his grandmother walked out of the house with a warm smile on her face as if she knew the second he would arrive. With his grandfather by her side she greeted him as she did every time with, “Hello grandson.” After a warm hug from both grandma and grandpa, all seemed right in the world…
The last time he saw her he, his wife and two children had come to visit her. His grandpa had gone to heaven a couple years earlier. As he leaned in for a kiss, she greeted him as she always had, “Hello grandson.” Though he knew it might be the last time he saw her on this earth, all seemed right in the world.
That grandma – my grandma – went to heaven July 4th, 2017; my grandpa preceeded her three years earlier.
Simple Lives Count
Some grandmas and grandpas have a special way of connecting with their grandchildren that no one else can. Through life’s joys and challenges, they were my safety net, a strong pillar and source of wisdom in my life. They championed my dreams and aspirations; they were there when it seemed that no one else was. They were the warm and fuzzy and the glaze on the donut in my life. They left me a million great memories that I will draw on throughout the rest of my life.
During the last years of writing the book Ancient Paths, I’ve thought about my grandparents a thousand times and how well they traveled the Ancient Paths where the good way is and found rest for their souls. They grew up in a small farm town and were married 69 years. They lived a simple life and through it all, their eyes have been on Jesus and it has been well with their souls. Their lives have been a good story — a very good story indeed.
As Dallas Willard says:
“We were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is our destiny.”
If for no one but me, my grandparents’ lives counted. However, it was not just me that their lives counted but for thousands of people whose lives they touched.
For hundreds of orphans it was the support they sent them each and every month that helped to make their lives better. I remember the visits to those orphanages and seeing the impact it made. For hundreds of kids it was the hard work and finances they gave building and maintaining the Christian summer camp I attended as a boy. Those memories still warm my heart and fuel my pursuit of God. For some it was the time they spent tucked inside their home logging the history and baptisms for the church they attended. For others it might be the years my grandpa spent serving the church as an elder and deacon. For pastors it could be the 40 years their families enjoyed living in the church parsonage that my grandparents help build with physical labor and finances. For shut-in and widows it was weekly visits and neighborhood kids as surrogate grandparents. Women were discipled and college kids were supported through Eunice Clubs my grandma organized and hosted. I still remember the smell of coffee brewing and delectable snacks as grandma prepared for the women to show up for a rich time of studying God’s word.
I will never forget the ring of my grandparents doorbell. I heard it ring hundreds of times as it welcomed friends and relatives unannounced. I loved the sound of that doorbell because it brought with it rich conversations and stories by those it welcomed. I quickly learned the ring of that doorbell meant everything stopped because God was interrupting our day to bring us closer to His story for our lives.
Yes, their lives counted when they championed my missions work to help me raise support. Together, through generosity and commitment to missions work, we led thousands they never met to Jesus all over world. Even in a nursing home the last few years of her life, my grandma believed she was there to bring joy and comfort to others that were there with her.
Their lives tucked away in a small farm town in the corn and bean fields of the United States, they served others with their lives. To those they touched, their lives counted in a way that no one else’s did.
Even when writing her obituary the only description my grandma wrote about her life was:
She was a member of the Moweaqua Christian Church since 1944 and worked as a janitor of the church for 15 years.
Like Jesus showed with His own life, they poured their lives into others and they changed that small farm town and the world through their service and love. They never had a lot, but just enough and what they had they shared with others.
Though most in the world never met my grandparents, the ripples they created have been felt around the world.
My Simple Challenge To Us
Each of us has a destiny to fulfill, for our lives to count in a way that no one else’s can. My grandparents spent their whole lives living and working in a 20 mile radius in a small farm town that most have never heard of. They never sought fame or fortune but instead focused on how they could show love to others in simple ways that made a difference.
You might say my grandparents lives were ordinary, much like the fishermen Jesus found and changed their lives to impact the world.
Many of the authors of the New Testament, as you might remember, were common, everyday people. When we think of the Bible heroes and authors, many times we forget they were very ordinary. Even as their stories were written, many of them were simple people being obedient to God.1
You might feel your life is very ordinary but God takes the simple, ordinary, everyday lives and through one small act at a time, makes them extraordinary. As Helen Walton reminded us and as the Bible teaches:
It’s not what you gather but what you scatter that tells you what kind of life you have lived.
My grandparents lives are scattered all over the world and the pages of everyone their life touched. Because God love them and sent His Son to die for them, like the early disciples, they gave their life to show others that love in simple ways.
God’s love attracted the early disciples and the early Church we read of in Acts. That love motivated them to show that love to others through their actions. They were immersed daily in each other‘s lives, steeped in the disciples teachings, and they were full of joy by abiding in Christ.
Through their lifestyle and daily actions, the disciples engaged in rescuing the beauty, the most prized beauty in all of history. For the Bible refers to Jesus’ disciples as His beloved and His bride. It is the sum of the disciples’ lives throughout history that has impacted and changed the world.
Jesus‘ invitation to those original twelve disciples is the same invitation offered to us: to be a disciple in every sense of the word. We too are invited into this battle and adventure. This is the story that each of us long for where we live out life with a group of like-minded people and change the world together. 2
It’s our turn to change the world.
Scott Michael Ringo
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