My Grandfather, 12 Years in Judgement

Charlton Rhinehart

The first close person in my life that I lost was my grandfather, I lost him 12 years ago. Sometimes I think about the things we did together, sometimes I think about the things he said, and sometimes I think about where he is now; and when I do so I must make a difficult choice.

Grandpa was a good and blessed person. He lived his life faithful to his wife and with a great concern and love for his family. I was blessed to spend many days with Grandma and Grandpa while my parents were at work. Grandpa had grown up during the depression in a very large family, they often had to go without, because of this he lived very frugally and responsible. He told a story of a coin he dropped on the way to buy a pair of shoes as a boy, he never found the coin and had to go the whole year without shoes because of it. Perhaps because of hard times like that my Grandma and Grandpa would spend all week cutting out coupons and preparing for grocery day, they would visit several grocery stores on the shopping day to get all the best deals. They made the most of their money in many ways living well under their means like many grandparents, yet they were not frugal at all when it came to spending on us grandchildren.

Grandma never drove a car her whole life, Grandpa always drove her around although she was very smart and capable, in several similar aspects he catered to her in an old fashioned way. The two of them kept their house prestige, Grandma would keep the indoors spotless and Grandpa worked daily maintaining their small lawn. I would work with him and I enjoyed it, we would mow every chance we got, bag every blade of grass, check the gutters, trim the hedges, and check the oil in the car and mower every week. Hardly ever did they need any oil but we still checked. Grandma and Grandpa always cooked at home, eating at a restaurant was no option. Grandpa always led a prayer before the meal, it was always the same recited prayer, but we never skipped giving thanks to God. Likewise Grandma and Grandpa never traveled anywhere for fun, the cost of travel was an unnecessary expense, but my Grandmother later told me she really regretted not taking vacations.

Grandpa was sharp although he never got to attend college, he helped several families with their taxes who couldn’t figure them out on their own. He read the paper cover to cover every day, he would watch the news knowing each each interval the new stories would be on. I never saw grandpa study his bible but I assumed he did so at some point from time to time. Grandpa always kept a close watch on the weather station also, if I could only count the times I listened to the music that played on The Weather Channel as the local forecast was displayed, I think of those days every time I’ve heard it since. We would show up way early for doctor appointments, and the doctor offices always made us wait way late before they would take one of us back to meet the doctor. In a sense this only contributed all the more to my procrastination habit as I saw how pointless being so punctual was. In many ways Grandpa bored me to death, I saw many grandfathers going fishing or woodworking, but Grandpa didn’t have any hobbies. Looking back however I realize he was a good grandfather, how much he cared for me and the responsibility he showed me.

Grandpa fought in World War II, he had traveled to Germany and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He had several good stories, but I was never brave enough to really ask him about any of the war action he had seen, I wish I had. The only gun he owned was a Luger he had brought back from Germany that he showed me a couple times. Grandpa was not an career soldier, he had volunteered when the war had grown to a size that a draft was about to begin. Grandpa had worked otherwise for the local chemical plant in the storeroom, a good fit as he was very organized and responsible. Despite his travels and service in life, hardly ever would a curse word slip from his lips, not like many of the other veterans I met.

Grandpa had grown up in a denomination, his father was the preacher for that church. His 11 brothers of his humongous family were quite wild like many preacher children are, but grandpa had a very different character of kindness. Grandma and him attended church in that same denomination every Sunday, even when they were very old and Grandma couldn’t hear a thing said there, they were still there each Lord’s day. Because of the denomination, Grandpa was never immersed or baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16). He was never even immersed for that matter, as he was only sprinkled as an infant which was the denomination’s practice for baptism. On top of this, the church embraced much error in structure, worship and practice. Year after year the church would adopt new errors changing with the times, yet Grandpa stayed with them. It didn’t help that his father was a preacher in that denomination, though his father’s gospel might have been much closer to the truth than what that church evolved into, it still gave my grandfather roots in a church not found in the scriptures (Gal 1:8), one that he never let go of.

Sometimes I think about the things my grandfather and I did together – sometimes I think about the things he said – sometimes I think about where he is now and what he is doing – and it hurts.

Grandpa was a good man, looking him in the eyes anyone could see kindness. There was nothing evil inside of him, there was no one he desired to hurt or who he despised. Many of his brothers had chosen a sinful life, several of them had become alcoholics, but I never saw grandpa touch a drop of alcohol or even joke about such things. I could go on with examples, but my grandpa was a good man, he loved me, and I loved him. By the world’s definition Grandpa was a good Christian man. There is a truth however that I have to face: that by the Bible’s definition Grandpa was not in Christ. His life showed many challenging characteristics of a person in Christ, but some of the most basic things that place us in Christ and in His saving church were not there (Gal 3:27; Eph 5:23). Perhaps I could tell myself it is not up to me to judge, but it’s my grandpa, day after day I think of him. There is a empty hole left in my life where Grandpa was and I cannot help but think about the life he has now. I think of him, and what it must be like, and I count the years it’s been.

We live in a world of lies, according to our friends and according to the religious leaders, almost everyone is going to heaven. We lie to ourselves about who God is, we lie to ourselves about where our loved ones are and we lie to ourselves about where we are going. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and truly is the prince of this world (John 14:30). There is however in this world of lies a reality revealed by the word that true Christians must face – it is difficult, it hurts, but through that narrow and difficult path of reality is life. The truth hurts us, it breaks our hearts and sometimes it steals away our loved ones from where we want to believe they are. It is also however this same painful truth that teaches us what is right and shows us the only way to have life unending.

Perhaps one of Satan’s greatest lures is that of our family. The love we have for those we have spent countless days with and have built our lives around, how easy it is to sell us into a deception about their soul’s state. When we buy into the lie about where our loved ones are, we buy into a lie that takes our soul also. The religious life our loved one lived suddenly replaces the right and wrong of God’s word that we knew. Sometimes it is tough to be truthful, truly ignorance is bliss. I will always cherish the memories of my precious grandfather, but as much as it hurts I have to live in truth and accept what it teaches me. Let us determine then to have the goal, not to set out to judge every soul that has ever lived, but to judge ourselves with righteous judgement (John 7:24), to live in truth and in God’s standard rather than our own.