(My hair and outfit: Wow. Seriously. Wow.
At least I didn’t have to post my “she-mullet” look. ;))
About three or four years ago (as usual, I can’t remember exactly), I started the personal tradition of writing a letter or email every year to someone that I was thankful for. Each year God laid that person on my heart and, frankly, I couldn’t get rid of the notion if I wanted to. This year is different, because the person on my is no longer with us on earth. It’s not someone who would have made my “top 10 people I’m thankful for” list, but I can’t stop thinking about him lately.
My great uncle Adam was my paternal grandmother’s brother. My grandma Ruth, who has also passed on, was well known as a pretty devout Christian lady. I could write a lot about what she meant to me growing up. Although I saw Uncle Adam sometimes, it wasn’t really often. I saw him more when he lived in the same mobile home park that my Grandma and Grandpa did.
To be honest, I don’t remember a great deal about him at all! I remember that he was very kind and fairy soft-spoken. He always seemed to be happy and smiling and always made much of us kids. He had an excessive amount of rhubarb plants, for whatever reason, and was always the handyman – working on yards and odd jobs for those in the neighborhood that couldn’t do so for themselves.
Other than that, I don’t really remember him being very obviously Christian in his beliefs, habits, or speech like my Grandma was. However, I spent quite a bit more time with her, so I probably wouldn’t have noticed that about him anyway. But the thing I’m so thankful for this year – the thing that God keeps playing over and over in my mind like a movie – is the time that Uncle Adam planted one of the most significant seeds of faith in my life.
I think I was in elementary school. Maybe Jr. High. I was with my grandma Ruth and great uncle Adam (and probably several others, although I don’t remember) and we were going out to some big church in the Portland area for an Easter play. The first thing I remember is Grandma making fun of Adam’s driving, saying he really “rode the brakes”. That’s pretty funny considering how she drove!
But what made such an impact on me were a few key moments during the play. We were watching the powerful story of Easter. The play was extremely well done, very dramatic, and I was enjoying it. I had been in church enough to be familiar with the story, but there certainly was no power to it for me. It was a captivating performance nonetheless. After a great build up to the crucifixion scene came the moment when Jesus hung from the cross, all hope was lost, and He cried out “it is finished!” Right then I looked to my left at uncle Adam and tears were streaming down his face. I was stunned and I stared. All at once everything felt heavy and mysterious. He was shaking with silent sobs and wiping the tears away. When I finally dragged my eyes back to the stage, the story of hope restored had already begun. I only remember thinking an awkward and quieting thought: something is happening here.
I am so thankful for Uncle Adam. And I am thankful that God allowed me to see a man wrecked to His core by the sacrifice of Jesus on his behalf. (It’s something I so admire now in my husband.) I may not really have understood it then, but it made it’s imprint on me. This great story was no longer only a light Sunday school experience but suddenly had a depth and substance that I would never be able to ignore for the rest of my life.
There were MANY years of struggling and fighting on my part before I finally accepted the reality of Christ. Right now I cannot even begin to describe my awe, wonder, and complete humility that He chose me at all. Thanks, great uncle Adam, for allowing me to see Jesus in you.