Some of my fondest childhood memories were at my grandparents' house. Every day after school I would walk just a few blocks to their house. I would open the door to the smell of bagel bites (my favorite snack), and the sound of my grandmother playing the piano and singing a gospel hymn – usually "I’ll Fly Away." I would drop my backpack, grab a plate, and walk into the living room where my grandpa would be sitting in his recliner with his glasses on and his Bible open. I remember bragging to my friends at school that my grandpa had read through the entire Bible. I remember sitting in youth group on a Wednesday night when my youth leader asked us to think of the "godliest" person we knew and like a reflex, my grandpa would come to mind.
I was able to make a trip home over the Memorial Day holiday to see my family and friends back in Arkansas. I spent much needed time with my parents and my brother. I rocked my two-month-old niece to sleep. I spent time with the woman I love before she heads to the Philippines for the summer. I will always hold this trip home close to my heart. There were moments that made my heart swell and my eyes water. One of those moments was a conversation with my grandpa that I'll never forget.
My grandpa loves to talk Bible, and when I'm home from seminary I am always curious what he will want to chat about. Our conversation bounced around from the classes I am taking to redemptive history. But, the conversation took a turn in mood when he began to tell me about some depression he was experiencing.
My grandpa turns 78 this year, and since my grandmother passed away several years ago he has lived on the same plot of land as my mom and dad. Due to severe arthritis in his back, he can't get around as well as he used to. He told me about one night when he couldn't sleep because he was depressed. He had read Titus 3 earlier that day and he couldn't shake verse 8, "…I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people." He told me that he was feeling lazy because of how limited he is in the ways he can serve his church and people in need. The godliest man I ever knew felt like he wasn't doing enough.
It is what he said to me next that made this conversation so powerful, so unforgettable. He said to me, "Logan, then you know what I remembered? 'he became sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.' I thought 'wow there's the power' and then I was good. I rolled over and I went to sleep."
To my grandpa, the gospel was the good news of rest. Like all true Christians, he longed to do good works, and it burdened his heart that he was not able to physically serve his brothers and sisters like he once could. But, the gospel spoke to him a sweeter word. He was reminded that no amount of physical labor for his church secured his relationship with God. He was reminded that he is not any less a Child of God because he had to stop teaching the Sunday School class he had taught for years. My grandpa found rest and his heart was given peace not because of what he could offer, but because the Son of God offered himself and became sin so that my grandpa could become the righteousness of God through him. It is because of this that my grandpa is just as much the righteousness of God at 78 years old as he was the day he placed his faith in Christ. This is good news brothers and sisters! Let us proclaim with my grandpa, "Wow, there's the power!"
Christian, I must ask: When is the last time the gospel was good news to you?