Of mortal folk, only my Dad influenced me more as a young man than my Grandpa.
Grandpa was a big man. In stature, but also in presence. He was commanding, even as he grew older. The only time I remember him different was at his deathbed.
Grandpa was a soldier. He fought as a Captain in the Royal British Army, his command being with the Gurkha’s in Burma.
Grandpa was one of the most humble men I’ve ever known. Like my Dad. Sure, on the outside they might have been different. But both men meekly walk(ed) under the mighty hand of God, seeking out His glory rather than their own.
Grandpa was awarded an MBE for his actions in the war. He never received it. He was a member of the British army, but he was born and bred here in Australia. After he returned with Grandma and Mum the MBE didn’t find him.
Before and after his time in the military Grandpa worked in China as a Missionary. It was in China that he met Grandma. It was in China that my Mum was born.
Mum has written a blog called “My China Mystery”. It’s her telling of Grandpa and Grandma’s story from the many letters, photos and memories throughout her life.
I cannot read it without a deep emotion welling up in my heart.
Here is history that should be treasured. Here is a story of courage, of humility, of love both romantic and eternal.
Read the prologue, and you will see a child’s experience of a father who went to war and came back changed. It hurts my heart to read this passage. That a child would know these things at such an early age. That Grandpa was a man broken by the war and (I would surmise) the seeming failure of Christian witness in China. Grandpa, Grandma and Mum had to flee China in 1949.
My Grandpa sent me a letter many years ago. I was at the beginning of University, and had begun “preaching on the lawns”. It was an intense time of passion and facing the fear of rebuke and mockery.
His letter told me of how he had stood on soapboxes in Melbourne, preaching the Word of God. It was a handwritten letter that I kept close for many years. Reading it was a window into the world of my Grandpa.
Grandpa was a man. But he was my Grandpa.
I miss him now, and look forward to singing the praise of the King together with him in the fullness of time.
My Mum was invited to Buckingham Palace to posthumously receive Grandpa’s MBE. Mum invited me, as well as Dad and my next Sis, along. So come mid-November I’ll be sitting in the presence of the Queen of England, thinking about Grandpa who’s no longer broken, but sanctified fully and in the presence of the King of all Creation.
Sadness. But joy entwines it, and brings us through.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.