Henry Earl Waters was my (maternal) grandfather. He died on Wednesday, November 25, 2009. He was 83 years old.
We called him Granddad, and when I was little he took me fishing and camping. Some of my early memories involve him and my granny. On Sundays, we would go eat at their house. Although he wasn’t a Christian, he would often cook for the whole family on Sunday. Then we would go over to their house after church.
My granny was a faithful Christian and had been praying for him all their married life. My wife and I were married in 1997, and I introduced my granddad to the minister who did our wedding. His name was Brother John. I explained to John that my granddad was not a Christian, and it was a deep burden on my heart.
Beginning in 1997, John started visiting granddad. He would just drop by the house to have coffee with him. He would pray, and he would tell granddad what he had preached the week before at church. This continued on until the March of 2001. One evening John came by to tell granddad about the sermon from John 6 the week before, and by the time John finished, granddad was crying and ready to confess his sins and trust Jesus.
I baptized granddad in April of 2001. That means my grandfather was only a Christian for 8 years. I think he made slow but good progress in the Christian faith. He was slowly changing and growing in his faith and knowledge of Christ, but I will not pretend that Christian growth is neat and clean. In fact, it is very messy because we are messy people, and that is no different with my granddad.
But there is something very specific that stands out for me regarding my granddad’s faith. This took place a few days before his death.
He didnâ€™t know that he had cancer until Monday, November 23. After taking it in for a while, he decided to sit at the table and talk to us. He started out talking about his life, how he had lived a long time and how thankful he was for how God had blessed him and the family. But the words that stand out most to me from that night were about his doctor.
He made the comment that perhaps, if his doctor had been on top of things, he might have done something about this sooner.
Now I have heard that many times. I have thought it myself. And those words by themselves can turn into bitterness and anger. And the man my grandfather was before April of 2001 would have stopped there. He would have been angry about the doctor and frustrated about the whole situation.
But the man sitting across from us at the table on that Monday evening didnâ€™t stop with those words. My granddad continued to say: â€œWell, this is the Lordâ€™s will and I will trust him.â€
â€œThis is the Lordâ€™s will, and I will trust him.â€
Those words are only spoken if you believe the gospel, the good news that Jesus has conquered death and has set you free from the fear of death.
Those words are only spoken if you trust in a good and loving heavenly father, who is infinitely wise and powerful, and he does all things for your good.
My grandfather was confident in what previous generations, including his, once called the providence of God, that God provides for his children; that God watches over and takes care of his people. And that no matter what we face, we can trust our loving heavenly father.
William Cowper said it this way in a poem that we now sing as a hymn:
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
My granddad understood, in his 8 short years as a Christian, that he could trust the Lord, that he should not judge what the Lord had done by his own feeble sense, but my granddad chose to trust God for his grace, because he knew behind this particular frowning providence, God was hiding a smiling face.
My granddad’s faith is a testimony to the loving and patient compassion of God, who in just the span of 8 years taught my granddad to trust His will. This wasn’t always the case with my granddad, but I am thankful that as he finished his course in this life, that God’s grace was obvious to those who could see it.