Last weekend we laid my Aunt Grace to rest. She led a gracious and joyous life, and I have yet to meet anyone who had a bad word to say about her. She also lived a life secure in her trust in the grace of God that would carry her through the good times as well as the rough times.
I’ve been thinking about my relationship with my aunt the last few days and a couple of things stand out. I owe a great deal spiritually to her. My mother prayed for me constantly and my sister invited me to church where I gave my heart to Christ, but it was Aunt Grace who challenged me to become a Christian.
Here is how it happened. Ruth and I lived in the country and on weekends we visited with my grandmother and my step-grandfather who lived in the same village as we did. Most weekends my Uncle Alan and Aunt Grace were there visiting as well so we always ended up with interesting conversation to say nothing of the wonderful meals we shared. Now, my Aunt Grace was the kind of woman who, if she wanted to know something, just asked. You could say she was straightforward and there was no beating around the bush.
Most Sunday afternoons we would end up sitting around the kitchen listening to Wilfred (my grandmothers husband) tell exciting and entertaining stories about his life working in the logging camps throughout New Brunswick. But, the day never ended without my Aunt Grace somehow turning the conversation to spiritual things and I was always the recipient of those discussions. Week after week she would ask me outright, “Laddie, why haven’t you become a Christian; you were raised in church and your mother prays all the time for you.” Now in our modern era of political correctness and pre-evangelism techniques connected to seeker friendly outreach my aunt would have been way off base to challenge me as she did. But, though I paid no attention to her, somewhere deep in my heart I learned things that were important.
The first was that my Aunt Grace loved me and only wanted the best for me. To her the best thing in all the world was to be a Christian. It meant so much to her and had feed her soul throughout the years and given her hope and encouragement as well as the strength and courage to live her life in the security of God’s love.
I also had to admit that God was love. I saw it in my mother, my grandmother and my Aunt Grace. They were women who had many struggles in their life, but they all had great faith and trust and it radiated from them in their actions and their attitudes toward others. This weekly challenge from Aunt Grace didn’t turn me off to God or make me want to avoid my aunt, but in fact I looked forward to the spiritual conversations and I deeply appreciated her concern for my spiritual welfare.
The other thing that stands out for me regarding my musings about Aunt Grace is how seldom we Christians challenge anyone on anything. We seem to go through life in a dream totally indifferent to the world around us. Just this morning I was reading about thirty Syrian Christians who were killed and thrown into a mass grave. The priest of the town was crying out, “Where is the Christian community, why does no one care?” We have been so indoctrinated by the press, government, and social acceptability regarding political correctness that we are afraid to speak up on behalf of Christ lest we offend someone or cause them to feel uncomfortable. Church growth consultants, Christian Apologists, mega-church leaders, and a host of other leaders would shudder at such a naive approach as asking outright why someone hasn’t accepted Christ. But, in my case it planted a seed and that seed coupled with my mother’s prayers and my sisters invitation to attend a church meeting brought my life into harmony with God’s will through the working of the Holy Spirit.
So Aunt Grace you left me a legacy. You left me wanting to be a Christian because you cared enough to ask me to become one. And you left me a legacy of wanting to tell the good news of God’s love to others. Yes, and sometimes we need to be bold and courageous and just ask, “what is keeping you from being a Christian?”