Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Opa...

Hilbertus Albertus Adriaanus Vanderklok
February 24, 1923 - May 19th, 2008

A couple weeks ago, my Opa went home to be with the Lord. I was honoured with the opportunity to give the eulogy at his memorial service. As I prepared the eulogy, I discovered how difficult a task it is to publicly honour a loved one who has died. Was I speaking on behalf of myself… what Opa meant to me? Was I speaking on behalf of his children, grandchildren, friends? I was painfully aware of the mourning of others as well as myself.

In the end, I spoke about what my Opa meant to me. I wanted to speak the truth; what I knew to be true is what he meant to me personally.

He was, above all, a spiritual mentor to me. This was the most challenging aspect of the eulogy. I have many relatives who do not know the Lord. Initially, I confess that I was afraid of offending them with "religious" talk. I almost scrapped my whole eulogy the night before the service. Oh, what a foolish thing to fear! Ironically, my Opa was not squeamish about sharing his faith in Jesus Christ. In the end, I knew that I had to honour Christ if I were to truly honour my grandfather. By the grace of God, I shared his life of faith and what that faith meant to me. Here are two areas of my Opa’s Christian walk that meant a great deal to me.

He was a man of prayer. He prayed daily for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Daily. My Opa would not go to medical appointments before 9 o’clock in the morning because he was “still meeting with the Lord.” He got out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning every day and he spent over three hours in prayer. When my father was clearing out Opa’s desk, he was amazed at the lists of people and organizations my Opa was praying for before his death.

My Opa also loved the Word. He read the Bible cover to cover hundreds of times since his conversion in 1963. At the plant where my Opa worked, he would spend every lunch break reading his Bible. On the tool box, by the machine he operated, sat his Bible. He was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His testimony at work resulted in the conversion of at least one of his co-workers, a man who has also become spiritual mentor to me, a man who is eternally grateful for my grandfather’s bold devotion to the Word of God.

What a legacy! What a gift my Opa was to my soul! By his example, he taught me to pray, to love the Word and to live my faith “always” and “everywhere.”

Before he died, my Opa filled out a form indicating his preferences regarding his funeral arrangements. In addition to which hymns he wanted sung and which Scripture passages he wanted read, my Opa was asked, “What message would you like to give to those left behind?” His response was this (paraphrased): “I hope to see everyone again someday, joining me kneeling at the throne of Jesus.” When the dead speak, the living listen.

Oh, that I would leave such a legacy for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Oh that I would be so bold in my Christian walk, to pray so fervently and to drink in the Word so faithfully. May my life and my death exult Christ as did my grandfather’s life and death!

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Beautiful. Thank you (and Laurie in her earlier post) for letting us get to know this man of God. What a blessing to have that kind of heritage behind you to lead you to leave a similar rich inheritance for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One day there will be those who speak at your funeral honouring Christ by honouring you, or honouring you by honouring Christ. Well said.