Most of us have memories of when someone close to us died. That is definitely the case for me when my Grandpa passed away back in December of 1995. For some time, we knew that Grandpa Stegeman was not well and would soon enter eternity. Our family had visited Grandpa almost every day in the preceding weeks and it was hard to watch him deteriorate.
One day we arrived at the care home and noticed that something was very different. Grandpa was sitting up in bed and was more energetic than he had been in weeks, maybe months. Even as a 12-year-old boy, I quickly noticed that Grandpa had a message for us. I don’t remember what he told my sisters or my parents, but what he told me is forever etched in my memory. The first thing he said was “Keep the family name going.” I was the only boy in our family and my Dad was the only son, so I knew what he meant. The second thing he said was, “Serve the Lord.” It wasn’t a long message, but it was communicated with power and strength, especially when you consider he was near death.
As you might imagine, our family cried a lot of tears that day. But it was so special and meaningful to fellowship with Grandpa and listen as he gave us his parting words. The next day when we came back to visit, it was completely different. Grandpa was laying down, he didn’t say much of anything, and later on that week he died.
We spent a lot of time with Grandpa growing up. One of the things I remember about him is that he always seemed to be reading his Bible. I can still remember coming in the door, walking up the steps, and seeing Grandpa reading his Bible in the kitchen as if it were yesterday. I don’t remember Grandpa being a big talker, but his example left a big impression on me.
Grandpa Stegeman has been gone for 24 years now. A lot has happened. I grew up, got married, and seven years ago when our oldest son John was born….I cried. It was an incredible moment. Today, by God’s grace, I am serving the Lord. It’s not always easy being a servant of the Lord, but it sure is rewarding. Steph and I are doing all that we can to raise our kids in the fear of the Lord.
One last thought. The average person gets about 30,000 days to live. Grandpa got about 35,000. The Bible says that God has numbered our days. My encouragement to you is to serve the Lord….today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your days, however long that may be.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Philippians 3:8-9