“Grandpa, what’s the neatest thing that ever happened in your lifetime?” Ten-year-old Jared issued the question from his perch on a wobbly footstool Grandpa had fashioned years before from a tree felled by lightning. “You know, like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon? Was that the coolest day ever?” Jared rocked back and forth like a cowboy on a horse, accentuating the stool’s lameness.
Jared’s slender grandfather, an aging man with wispy white hair, piercing gray-blue eyes, and bright red suspenders that matched his tattered plaid flannel shirt, sat in an overstuffed chair flecked with dandruff. His work-worn fingers gently tapped the chair’s doily-covered armrests.
“Well son, visiting the moon was a big deal,” he said with a gravelly voice. “In 1961 President Kennedy issued a challenge for an American to walk on the moon within ten years. Because of the dedication of those working in the Apollo space program, it happened in 1969.”
“Yeah! I thought that would be it! The biggest deal! The coolest thing!” Jared whooped, lunged from the stool like a bucking bronco, and crow-hopped around the braided rug’s mock rodeo ring. “Traveling in space is SO AWESOME!”
“Actually though, there was something else – something other than landing on the moon,” Grandpa said quietly.
Jared suddenly grew still. “Really? What?”
Grandpa leaned forward, crossed his slipper-shod feet, rested his forearms on his thighs, and peered into the young face just inches from his. “The day I finally understood Jesus’ faithfulness to me. It was the same day your grandmother devoted herself to me in marriage.”
“Your wedding day? It was the neatest?”
Grandpa nodded. “The day your grandmother and I pledged to love each other forever was the best of my entire life. Near midnight on our wedding day, she explained how God had committed Himself to an eternal plan that would include me, and also how He committed to me personally even before I was born.” Grandpa’s eyes shone. “After our mutual vows earlier that day, and because of God’s promises to me, I knew I should join your grandmother and give myself to Him, too.” He became very still, and his voice grew hushed. “So Grandma prayed with me in our log cabin by the lake, with a moon trail walking across the water, and I dedicated myself to the Lord. My heart melted twice that day. Once for her, and once for Him.”
Jared had grown very still and was sitting cross-legged, Indian-style. “Really?” He didn’t know what else to say.
“Yes. Grandma had explained God’s redemptive plan before, but I’d only half-listened. This time I heard the truth. And it changed me forever.”
Jared’s eyes widened. “Do you have to be a grown up to pray like that?”
“No, it can happen anytime. That’s just the way it happened for me.”
“Oh.” Jared stared at Grandpa’s crossed feet with a brooding face. “Well, if that’s the coolest day of your life, even better than landing on the moon, then I want to know all about it. I mean ...” He paused to look up sheepishly. “… I don’t think I quite get it.”
“You will,” Grandpa assured him. “We’ll talk more, and you’ll get it, son. I’ll make sure you do.”
Jared’s face brightened. “Thanks, Grandpa!” He grabbed a spiral-bound book from the coffee table and handed it to his grandfather. “Can you read this book to me before bedtime?”
Grandpa muttered the title out loud: “Space Station for a Fine Young Astronaut. I remember reading this book to your dad – it was his favorite.”
While crawling into Grandpa’s lap, Jared replied, “Yup – Dad loved this book – see – it pops up to make the four rooms of a space station!” Jared opened it and pointed out the communication room. “This was Dad’s favorite page, and it’s mine, too.” Then Jared’s face suddenly became thoughtful. “Grandpa, what if Mom and Dad hadn’t died in that accident? I wouldn’t have lived with you and Grandma, would I?”
Grandpa’s eyes grew misty. “We would always have been there for you no matter what, but probably in a different way if your parents had lived.”
“Right, Grandpa.” Jared settled in and contentedly nestled against the old man’s chest. “Now c’mon, let’s read this! Okay?” He bounced just a little in anticipation. “And Grandpa, do you know what?” Jared’s face glowed, reflecting his grandfather’s devotion. “Today is the very best day of MY life.”
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