My father died when I was five, and our little family of four moved in with my mother’s parents. Papa was almost 80, Mama nearly 60. My two younger brothers and I were often herded to the porch when we were too noisy or too underfoot. Magical things happened on that porch when we were with Papa. We had front row seats to hummingbirds in mimosa trees and lightning bugs at night. The porch was our stage for performances of all kinds – circus acts, concerts with pinecone microphones, and so many tall tales. Papa was our patient audience of one.
The porch was the place Papa went to smoke his pipe. In my mind, I can still see him with one foot up on the rail, smoking his Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco. We wanted to be just like him. He made us corncob pipes, and the four of us would “smoke” and talk on the porch. To be truthful, we did the talking, and he did the listening. A quiet man with a big heart, Papagave his life to Christ in his fifties when our momma and her sister were little girls. From that time, he was a new man. Each Sunday, he drove to a nearby town to pick up the preacher for church, to their house for lunch and a nap, back to church Sunday night, then back home again.
As I read through the numerous genealogies of 1 Chronicles, I amreminded of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I see God’s faithfulness in providing our family a safe place to grieve and heal. Papa taught us how to whittle and how to garden. He took us to church and tolerated our shenanigans, but the most important things he gave us were security and unconditional love. He lived by a standard that guided us closer to knowing Jesus as Savior. I’ve learned that our heritage matters, but it’s not the DNA that matters the most. It is God living in us! I give thanks that we have a heavenly Father who knew us and chose us before we were born.
Romans 8:15 tells us, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Daddy God! Lord, You alone are worthy of all we have to give. You are our Audience of One, the Lover of our souls. Help us to remember to “give thanks in all circumstances,” for this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus.