The kids and I took a trip this weekend to Baldwin City, Kansas for the Maple Leaf Festival. Our family gathers there every October at my grandparent’s hundred year old home. I have fond memories of playing “Christmas” on the third floor with my cousins, sliding down the wooden staircase on a slick crib mattress, and jumping into piles of yellow and red leaves in the yard.
I remember Grandpa beautifully playing the grand piano downstairs to wake us all up early enough for church. I recall sitting still and quiet at the “remembrance” service, taking my first sip of the red communion wine, and afterwards hearing Grandpa joyfully singing “What a Savior!”
Grandpa shared his testimony every year at our Saturday night evening bonfire. He told of a sad childhood as a result of being abandoned by his father, and of lingering depression. But while in the Navy and fearing a watery grave in World War II, He came to know Christ at a Bible class. He said, “I then went to the South Pacific with absolutely no fear and at the time so full of joy that I could hardly contain myself. God had rescued my soul.” I truly believe his love for God never wavered after that powerful transformation.
My Grandpa passed away on October 31, 2009. He was one of the godliest men I have ever known. He was a medical doctor, and the founder of a local Brethren church. He shared the gospel with all of his patients and preached on Sundays. He woke each morning to study the Scriptures in Greek and Hebrew, fix a cup of coffee for Granny so they could pray together for their six children, 16 grandkids, and a growing number of great grandchildren.
He loved the Word of God. When we asked him to read one verse at our wedding ceremony, he took the opportunity to read a whole chapter, and preach the gospel for ten minutes, while I stood waiting to be given away by my dad.
I miss my Grandpa Jones. I am thankful my children remember him and Granny a little, and that they are participating in the tradition of Maple Leaf. More importantly, I am thankful for the legacy and example my grandparents left. I drove home this weekend more in love with Jesus. That’s the legacy he left me. That’s the legacy I hope to pass to my children. Because just as Jesus rescued my Grandpa Jones, he also rescued me.
You can read Grandpa’s story of conversion while in the Navy in his own words here.