Today I want to take a moment to honor a man who was very important to me. I want to share how God redeems a story, even when it is so many years in the making, and how sometimes the redemption takes on a form we could never have imagined. For that’s when you know it’s really God and not something you fabricated yourself.
The story is about the legacy of my Papa, who passed on to be with Jesus on December 31, 2016.
I don’t even know how to describe and articulate what his presence in my life has meant to me. All I know is I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without him.
Papa’s life exhibited one of the greatest forms of love I have witnessed. He loved people. He loved my grandmother, he loved his neighbors, he loved his previous co-workers (many of who he stayed in touch with by telephone). He loved his family. He loved me.
In John 15:13 it says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus ultimately laid down his life for us and through that has called us friends, but I also knew that my Papa would lay down his life for me. He would’ve taken a bullet for me. That kind of love does something for a girl.
Another one of my favorite verses is “Perfect love drives out all fear. Because fear has to do with punishment.” I was never afraid in Papa’s presence. Although, he was my grandfather and I never feared that he would ground me either. But none the less… He lavished me with that kind of love where I had nothing fear.
There was never a request too tall that he couldn’t fulfill. He was never too busy to spend time with me. He was never too broke to buy something for me. He was never too tired to go on a bike ride with me. When I walked into my grandparent’s house I was the most important person to them.
Papa was never idle. He was making chairs or boxes, custom puzzles for my kids or a table for a friend. He could fix or replicate ANYTHING! And he never gave up perfecting his craft.
You can’t love like Papa loved without knowing the Source of love itself. Yes, he was a macho man who saw in black and white, crew cuts and preferred a smooth shaven face, but he did know Jesus Christ as his Savior. And he spent his life loving people with that kind of love.
Even the nurses who took care of him towards the end picked up on this characteristic of him. When I stayed with him the last night of his life, the lady working the grave yard shift said with tears in her eyes, “He told me he loved me.” And I saw that she believed it. No one may have really told her that, but an 86 year old man with late dementia and only weeks to live told her she was loved and it made a difference to her.
I am so thankful God chose Bill Smith to be my granddad. Because of his love for me, he showed me a glimpse into God’s love for me.
Now, in Papa’s absence, I see Jesus as the Source of Papa’s love and the one who loves me completely, even more than Papa did. Jesus is never too busy for me, never too tired or too broke to provide for me. And when I come to Him in prayer, He drops everything to listen and make me feel special.
I miss my Papa. I started missing him the day he went into the hospital in November of 2015. Words cannot express my love for him and depths to which I will miss him as apart of my everyday life.
As I’ve processed my grief I believe the reason death is so hard to process is because we were never meant to process it. God’s original design wasn’t for us to die, but to enjoy unhindered fellowship with Him. Death came as a result of sin and thanks be to God He loved us enough to grant us a way to escape death. Our physical bodies still die, but spiritually those who are in Christ never die. And in that I rejoice. In that lies my hope of Redemption.
But it doesn’t stop there. My mom, Debbie Kuster, has her own story of redemption with her dad that is so precious it bring tears to my eyes each time I read it. There is such a truth in her story for anyone struggling with feeling unworthy.
I had the supreme honor of spending time with my dad almost every day for the last four months of his life. I’m not sure that we have ever had that much daily time with each other. I am certain that we never had that much time with just the two of us. No distractions. No task at hand or responsibility to fulfill. Just time. Together.
I got to be an eye-witness of God carrying to completion His good work in my father. (Phil. 1:6) By human eyes the end of my dad’s life was not triumphant. It did not look like the winner’s circle. He had lost his youngest daughter, his wife of 63 years, his physical and mental abilities to even care for himself. But in his presence, for me, there was a powerful love and strength that healed my hurts and redeemed our relationship with each other. Dad loved me in a way that I had never experienced before.
Those quiet months together felt like they were just for me. A sweet gift. The Apostle Paul writes to his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ “…I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body,…” (Phil. 1:23) How Dad wished to depart! And, yet, I see now how necessary it was for me that he remained just a little longer. And I am so grateful.
And I want to tell you the biggest thing that Dad taught me. He wasn’t able to serve or provide or fix or help me with any need and there was no more zest for life here. But what I learned from Dad—by his life—in the very core of my heart–is what our God always wants us to learn. Our value and worth are not in our “doing.” Our value is that we are God’s children. Made in His image. Loved by Him.
The Thread of Redemption exists to point out the fingerprints and footprints of God in the brokenness of life.
Through people’s stories we will highlight the thread of redemption weaved through-out the fabric of our lives. We may not be able to see Him with the naked eye, but with just the right tools we can say, Look, He’s right there! He has been here all this time. I just couldn’t see Him!