From the desk — March 29 2011

I said goodbye to my grandfather Saturday. We stood in a frigid downpour in front of his grave as a member of the United States Air Force played TAPS on her bugle in the distance. As the honor guard knelt on one knee and presented my dad with the folded flag, he thanked him for my grandfather’s service and sacrifice for our country’s freedom.

The word sacrifice had also been used earlier in the funeral service. The pastor reminded us of Christ’s sacrifice for us, which gives us the assurance that even though my grandfather is absent from his body, he is present with the Lord. I know this to be true, but I saw the word sacrifice in an entirely new way.

In 2009, my grandfather’s house was swept from top to bottom for anything of value, including precious family heirlooms. The perpetrator was the mother and other family members of one of my aunt Judy’s students, a family that she had taken under her wing and who’s son for whom she and my grandfather cared a great deal for.

After months of investigation and searching for the stolen items in pawnshops, the mother was convicted on felony charges and sent to prison. My family forgave and moved on, putting the ordeal in the past.

Saturday, that same family walked through our receiving line. The son who my grandfather had once talked to for hours about the planes that he piloted was in full ROTC uniform. He was most likely in ROTC because of my grandfather’s influence and had come to give him a final salute.

It was hard for me to shake their hands. I could feel how uncomfortable they were and I myself felt uncomfortable touching someone who had so negatively touched my family and hurt my grandfather.

As we gathered back at my grandparent’s home, a few people asked who the misplaced-looking family was. We reminded them of the story and many shook their heads in disbelief, amazed that they would show up on a day already filled with sadness.

Others smiled, and a friend remarked that it is what my grandfather would have wanted — to make amends and forgive them for something they were seeking forgiveness for.

The comment left me thinking about the word sacrifice and how it related to the guilty family and my grandfather’s death. Without the hope of salvation, there would be no reason for a funeral. Without the incomprehensible grace that God showed when he sent his Son Jesus to die as a sacrifice for all sinners, there would be no reason to celebrate the life and death of my grandfather or to show the same forgiveness to others.

I am so thankful that God is willing to shake my hand every time that I uncomfortably come before Him for forgiveness.

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