Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)
TITLE: An Officer and a Gentle Man
By Coleene VanTilburg
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The arrangements were made, the paper work completed and within a week, I was riding in the car with this man to a home in that far off town. Our conversation was polite and to the point. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, conversations began to lengthen. He told me that in my room was a box with some of my Dad's things. It took me awhile before I got the courage to face my pain and open the box.
His baseball card collection, some school pictures and report cards were amongst a Children's Bible when I finally peered inside. Opening the Bible I would find a baptism card and my Father's "statement of faith," dated in his eleventh year. As I sat gazing at this find, my Grandfather’s voice startled me.
"You know, I would take your Dad to church sometimes, but I never went; not even to his baptism. Your grandmother and I were career officers in the Army and we traveled constantly. Your Dad had to endure all the moves. The U.S. Army was what I was, what I loved, what I knew. When your Grandmother was killed in the embassy bombing, my responsibilities were clear. Fatherhood was not among them."
My Dad had lived all over the world, but I had never heard this side of the story. I did not know what to say but as I held my Dad's Bible and looked at my Grandfather, I felt the longing for a return, a chance to right a wrong.
"Sam...Can we go to church this Sunday?" I surprised myself in asking.
"Yeah, I think that would be good," as he left the room.
That morning the Pastor spoke a simple message from the Gospel of Luke, something about becoming a kid again. Sam sat beside me. I felt his uneasiness as the message continued. I looked over at his face, expecting to see boredom but instead I saw that dark cloud I had always pictured bursting with real tears streaming down that now softened jaw line and his shoulders shuddering. I took his hand in mine and together we walked that aisle. My Grandfather Sam would become like a child that day. He began to release that which hindered his relationship to his own son and to God. Suddenly, I felt a peace again, a peace I had not felt in a long time. I understood why God had me return to my Grandfather. As an Army officer he had been in almost every kingdom across the globe representing the United States, yet he had skipped over the most important Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ would now represent him. Like a child, my Grandfather entered the Kingdom of God and we were baptized together. Grandfather Sam got a second chance and a family was restored.
Luke 18:16 But Jesus called for them saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
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