November 25, 2017 would have been my maternal grandfather’s birthday, if he was still alive. Each year on the anniversary of his death as well as his birth, I try to do something special in his memory. This year, on that day, something significant happened that made me appreciate the lessons I learnt from my grandfather, through the way he lived his life, rather than trying to do something in memory of him.
The events and happenings of November 25, 2017 made me realise how significant it is to have someone older and wiser to turn to for advice when needed. Where then does one turn when such wisdom is lacking? Too many are turning to things that provide temporary solutions and finding themselves on a revolving cycle. Many are even encouraged to stay on that cycle by those who could help but make the choice to remain silent. For that very reason, I try to share what I’ve learned, just in case someone is out there who can benefit from my sharing.
I haven’t read that calendar of quotes since November 6th so I hadn’t read it on the day of gramps birthday. I so wish I did. I would have been better prepared for the events of that day. Nevertheless, I had an urge to read it on Tuesday 5th December (along with the others I missed). The quote says:
‘Greet each new sunrise with joy, and you will greet each sunset with peace.’
I meditated on that thought, as I thought about my grandfather’s life. His death left a void which found me so hungry for the Word and thirsting after righteousness, in a way that I couldn’t explain before. He was the only father I knew. Unknown to me, at the time, his death found me seeking a replacement I would never find in another father figure.
When my grandfather died, I was at university dreaming of life after full-time education. I took it for granted that he would be there for all the major milestones, cross-roads and turning points of my life. And if he wasn’t able to be there in person, I would fly home as soon as I could, to share the details with him. Losing him at that point on my journey affected my concept of life. In my underdeveloped mind, Gramps or Grampa (as I called him) was always going to be there.
I could not envisage a future without him being part of my life. I hadn’t lived long enough to understand that part of living is growing older and one day leaving this body behind. I had hopes and dreams that included my grandfather as the authority figure in my life. Being the only constant in my life (him and grandma) since my birth, he was embedded in my mind’s picture of the future.
I never envisaged him leaving.
Nevertheless, from his death, I would learn many lessons. I experienced the turmoil that comes to one’s world after losing a loved one and from the many lessons I’ve learned over those 22 years, I now know that ‘weeping may endure for a night (however long or short the night is) but of a surety weeping must come to an end. Weeping/mourning is a vital part of grieving but it is only meant to last for a season. Therefore, we need not lose hope for we have the promise that joy will indeed come in the morning. Another lesson I am so appreciative of today is—seeking after righteousness, and enjoying the peace that it produces within—the peace that surpasses all understanding. I believe that is the key lesson Grampa’s life taught me (purely from looking back and observing his life).
Twenty two years later and I am able to look back and recognise how experiencing loss of that magnitude helped to prepare me for the many rejections, losses and neglect I would have had to endure in the world Grampa was leaving behind. I guess part of the pain was in losing the only father-figure I had ever known, since I didn’t know my biological father. It was only eight years prior to that I had prayed for a husband so of course, in my mind, he would be the one my future husband would be seeking permission from to marry me. Who else could it be! He had my best interest at heart and he used his retirement years to care for me and protected me from predators. He was definitely the most suitable ‘Give-a-way-father’.
It took another four years after his death to meet the man I prayed for and I would have been so proud to introduce him to Gramps. I wanted him to be the one to walk me down the aisle and the one my husband could go to for godly advice whenever he needed such wisdom. Every young husband needs someone like my Grampa in their life to pass on such wisdom that is beyond their years; to encourage them when they start to slip or slide; and to help them get back on track if or when they drop the baton. What a mentor he would have been for my beloved Vince (the husband God provided)!Grandpa’s death left me feeling a kind of sadness I never knew prior to his death. I didn’t just lose him physically in 1995, I lost the hopes and dreams I had of the kind of future I imagined—the one in which I now live. Since his death, I managed to live under that cloud of sadness until I saw him in a dream where he asked me to feed his friends. Well, that confused me for a little while as I was very much a toddler in the faith with little understanding. With my natural mind, I understood that dream in a practical sense and operated out of that level of understanding.
Nevertheless, as I fed on the Word, over the years, I was enlightened. It took me many years to grasp the concept of ‘feed my friends’ when I eventually read and understood what John chapters 15 and 21 had to do with that dream/vision. It was to introduce me to my heavenly Father, the only One who could fill the empty space inside—that void left behind by my grandfather’s physical absence. I was going to ‘church’ (attending church regularly) thinking that being a Christian was simply going to a place of worship once per week to gather with the rest of the people and participating in church activities throughout the week. I didn’t yet have a relationship with my heavenly Father and that dream came to change that belief.
As I developed that relationship with my heavenly Father, the One who calls me friend[i], I began to hunger and thirst after righteousness. I was then pointed to John chapter 14, the Scripture passage that was read at my grandfather’s funeral, and it both provided the comfort and direction I needed.
I later found that I needed to feed on the Word so I could have the guidance I would need for the years ahead. I needed to feed on the Word, so I wouldn’t get lost or stay lost in the mountain of confusion and chaos that I would later face in life. I needed to feed on the Word so I could find comfort in times of sorrow (of which there would be plenty). I needed to build on the foundation that he and Grandma had laid, to understand that I would labour in vain, if I didn’t have the right material to build[ii].
Cultivating a Grateful Heart
The more I read, the better I understood. The better understanding I gained, the more applicable it became to my life. The more I applied the Word to my life, the more room I was making to experience the joy that was deeply buried under all that sadness. So now I simply want to keep feeding on the Word of God so I can continue to experience His joy in abundance.
‘Joy is much stronger than happiness. Happiness may flee in the face of turmoil, but joy remains constant and sure.’ Whenever I think of Gramps, joy is what I feel. I cannot remember any occasion when I looked at him and felt sad. He was always bringing joy into our lives through his words and actions. So if I had to choose a quote to encourage you today and the rest of this year it would be this one: ‘Greet each new sunrise with joy, and you will greet each sunset with peace.’
So why am I encouraging you with this quote? Because, ‘The quiet heart knows that peace is the fruit God uses to rule it.’ Isaiah 32:17 says, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” So why not give it a try! Go on, enjoy life!
‘Life is a joyous celebration for those who walk in love.’ And ‘God’s love is shown in the way we live… in the acts of kindness we willingly do for others.’ Be sure to take note of that word, ‘willingly’ because it makes all the difference. If it’s not willingly done, then it’s not a good deed because the heart is not in the right condition and therefore the attitude will not line up. Pay close attention to this one over the festive season and at any other times when you feel the need to give out of obligation.
Having looked back on my twenty two years journey, to this point, since my grandfather’s death, I’m about to take the advice of the following quote: ‘Take time today to sing a quiet song of thankfulness, to rest contentedly in God’s goodness and His faithful love.’
One cannot truly possess a thankful heart if one does not take time-out to count ones blessings and be thankful for such blessings. My grandfather left this world without knowing how much I loved him but his role was to teach and what a professor he was. I am now passing on those lessons through my parenting and I pray that through my marriage he’s also speaking loud and clear.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Helping you on the journey! Cultivating a grateful heart ignites the joy.
© J S Ramkissoon 2017 www.write2shine.com
[i] See John 15:15 - 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
[ii] Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.