When Daniel was twenty, he gave his heart away to a young woman named Audrey. His first glimpse of her was during the bus ride home after returning from service in the Korean War. She was sitting near the front of the bus, and he couldn’t stop looking at her. At first he thought she was too young to be traveling alone, but then he watched her because she was quite beautiful. Audrey was eighteen and on her way to her aunt’s house to help her take care of her new triplets. Incidentally, Audrey’s aunt had married Daniel’s uncle; so, they were introduced by family and friends, were married a short time after, and Audrey became Daniel’s everything.
Daniel had met Jesus as a young person, but his relationship with Him hadn’t grown. Instead, Daniel filled his life with Audrey and the many other things he loved. He kept himself surrounded by books, luxuriated in classical music, spoke in witty prose and puns, and communed out of doors. He was a book-learned man. He was a thinker, a romantic, a naturist, an idealist. Throughout his seasons of life, he sought knowledge and wisdom from the world around him. He kept journals and studied character, pondered human and animal kind, and had his writing published. Audrey kept him humble, and their love grew like the successful little garden they’d made on the back of their lot behind their home that was nestled among the other “bread box” houses that sprung up in the fifties.
About the time Daniel and Audrey celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, Audrey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The battle to keep her began. He clung to her for twelve long years as Audrey was very slowly taken from him. Daniel’s joy and life was consumed along with Audrey’s body and mind, a little more every day, every week. Audrey passed in peace on Daniel’s birthday in 2011. He was left embittered and angry with God. Daniel was sure he was beyond finding a place in God’s kingdom now, because he wasn’t about to make peace with the one who took his Audrey away. He withdrew into his thoughts and all the things he had left of her.
Daniel was my grandpa. A man I adored. I prayed so fervently for his salvation. I wanted so badly to see him on fire for the Lord. I argued with him about faith, about what the Lord says about consequences, salvation, and forgiveness in the Bible. He always just smiled and hugged me, and his answer was that it was too late for him. (Tears sting my eyes and swell my throat even as I write this.)
A little over three years after his beloved Audrey died, in April 2014, Daniel slowly lost everything else. One day he was trying to read an excerpt from his journal to my mom and dad, a passage everyone had heard him read many times before, but this time he couldn’t read the words and speak them aloud. He began to wander without understanding or comprehending what he was doing. Within weeks Daniel was unable to speak, to take care of himself, to feed himself, and, eventually, to eat or drink. Everyday something was taken from him until he became a trembling shell of a man sitting in a chair waiting for what would come or go next. It all happened so quickly, and this was the state he was in by the time I got to visit with him again. My husband took a day off work so we could all go down and be with my grandpa before he passed.
I walked into his room alone at first, and he showed that he was excited to see me. I had prayed for one last chance to share the truth of Jesus with him. I prayed that this would be the time Grandpa would allow it to penetrate his heart. As soon as Grandpa saw me, however, he excitedly motioned to me that he had seen Jesus, he had invited Him into his heart! Joy overcame me. I was given the gift of spending my last day with Grandpa Dan cuddling with him, praying with him, and closing our earthly relationship in peace, without regret. I will forever be grateful to God for such a gift. It was such a beautiful day and is a cherished memory for me. It was the last day Daniel was awake. He was tucked into bed that night and never regained consciousness. He died peacefully a night or two later.
During his life on earth, Daniel spent a great deal of time trying to gain knowledge on his own. When I read Proverbs 4:7 I think of him; especially when I read it in the New International Version, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” It did cost him all he had. He grew so stubborn that the Lord had to strip the man of everything until all Daniel had left was the breath that the Lord had breathed into him. That is when he finally gained understanding; that is when Daniel found wisdom.
Do not wait to make peace with our Lord and Savior. Do not allow even a speck to come between you and all that is yours with Him. He never said we would have it easy, or that we will be guaranteed to have all we want. No, what we gain is life that is fuller and savvier than we could ever believe possible. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21)
Heavenly Father, You are holy. You are magnificent. Forgive me the times I rely on my own stubbornness, trying to use my own knowledge without wisdom or understanding. I adore You and am in awe of you. Today I will cease striving and know that YOU are God. (Psalm 46:10a) Thank You for the treasures You give so generously and the opportunities You have given me for sharing the ones you have given to me. Be blessed and glorified, Father, I pray this through the power of Your Son’s mighty name. Amen.