Until We Meet Again.

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“Aaron,” my grandfather stopped me as I walked out the door. The seriousness of his tone and the look on his face caught me off guard. Grandpa was a man of few words, his faithful presence spoke volumes. On this day however, he clutched my heart and my soul with the most important words he’d ever said to me.

“Aaron, I pray for you every single day. I just wanted you to know that.”

I was in my mid-twenties and the gravity of grandpa’s words caught me completely off guard. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to respond. And so I simply said, “Thank you.” (In my memory the tone of my response was a bit sheepish, maybe even a bit imperious—as if I deserved such a grace.)

It wasn’t until a few years later that I recalled this conversation and experienced the full weight of grandpa’s words. The past, now nearly 20 years of pastoral life, hasn’t always been the easiest journey—I’ve had a few “outside of the norm” experiences that have shaped and formed my understandings of life, people, the church. And in each one of those moments, the death threats, being fired, watching a dream fall apart (as a church planter), grandpa’s words came roaring into view, washing over my heart, my spirit, and my soul like none other. “Aaron, I pray for you every single day.”

I am not sure I would have made it through those life-altering experiences without the faithful prayers of my grandfather.

For a long-time I’ve feared the day he would no longer be with us, selfishly coveting his daily prayers over my life. I had often wondered, “when he’s gone, who will take up the banner of faithful prayer over my life like he has?” I have stared at this moment for years with trepidation, and yesterday afternoon it came to pass. My grandpa passed away.

My grandpa has been one of the most important spiritual fathers in my life. He has modeled a quiet faithfulness, always quick to step in and serve the community, his church, his family, never asking for recognition or fanfare but faithfully and without complaint accomplishing the task set before him.

Grandpa chose to teach me through example more than through words. He taught me to be observant, to quiet myself and simply sit. Over the past year in the couple of visits that we would have, this was what we’d do. We’d share a few stories and then sit in the silence, grandpa modeling for me a comfortability, an ease with silence, teaching me to wrestle with the uncomfortableness and eventually settle in to this foreign space. This was his final and perhaps greatest lesson for me.

While the silence is still foreign, it is here in this space that I have come to realize that grandpa’s faithful, daily prayers for me were not his alone but rather a part of a larger network, a larger tapestry of prayers by others that spans farther than I could have ever imagined. The faithful banner of prayer over me and my life that grandpa initiated is being carried out by so many others, in different places. I’ll never fully know the full extent of that reach. That is a part of the beauty of prayer, and the legacy of my grandfather in my life. I will miss my grandpa but his memory, his legacy, and his lessons will endure.

I love you, grandpa, and I will miss you… until we meet again.

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