Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Grandpa

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” 
2 Timothy 4:7-8
Yesterday this world lost an incredible man. A man who loved Jesus, his family, and anyone else who the Lord put in his path. A man who knew how to love and loved well. The world lost my Grandpa

This morning I woke up to a text message from my Dad asking me to call as soon as I could, my Grandpa Johnson had died in his sleep during the night. My Grandpa has been battling Alzheimer’s the last few years but we had no idea it would be this soon. My family was just with him Monday night in celebration of Labor Day. Little did they know, that it would be the last time in this world.

My Grandpa was an amazing man who loved the Lord and all those around him. It didn't matter your past or what you had done, he loved you for you and where God had you now. He truly was a “light in the darkness.” His life was a testimony of Christ’s love, grace, goodness and forgiveness. My Grandpa served as a senior pastor for years but even after he retired in the early 90’s, his ministry did not end. No, he continued to share the love of Christ with all those around him. He truly was a “city on a hill,” a flame for Christ that could not be hidden. 

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can not be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

When he entered into eternity the other night, I just smile when I picture Christ greeting him and saying, “well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) That’s how I want Christ to greet me in eternity. “Well done, Anneli, good and faithful servant.” My Grandpa has shown me how to do that. How to live for Christ and show that love to others in this lost world. 
I’ll be honest, my heart is breaking. When I read that text message from my Dad, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. How could my Grandpa be gone? I didn't even get to say goodbye. To hug him one more time. To hear him call me “Beautiful (his nickname for me)" just once more. I don't get to hear him pray, to hear his laugh, to see his sweet smile when I talked about my babies in China, to share an ice cream sundae or Sunday night pizza with him (he sure had a sweet tooth), or to hear him tell me that God has such an amazing plan for my life. Just one more time. 

My only regret is that I didn't call. I've been meaning to call him for months and I haven’t. It goes to show than none of us know how long we will be on this earth and we must never take even a day for granted. 

After hearing the news and allowing the shock to wear off, I can’t help but smile at his memory. I remember his goofy jokes. Of course I would always laugh at them no matter how silly they were. I think he appreciated my presence just for that. I remember driving to the airport with him and my Grandma to greet my parents and my new baby sister, Kiah, when she came home from China. I remember road tripping with him down to Tennessee years ago for vacation and the silly car games we came up with. I remember looking into the stands at a swim meet and seeing him there, cheering me on, the pride showing all over his face. I remember last summer when before I came back to China and he told me, “Anneli, keep following Jesus and all that He is calling you to do.” Yes, my heart is breaking, but mainly because I will miss him so much. He is sitting with Jesus right now and for that I can't help but smile.

The night before I flew back to China in May, we had pizza at my Grandparents house on the lake. Little did I know, that would be the last time I would hug and kiss my Grandpa on this earth. After hearing of his passing, my mind was spinning and I could not for the life of me remember the last time I was with him. I looked back at pictures from my time home this spring and came across this one. This is the last picture I took of my Grandpa. It was after we said goodbye and were about to climb in the car to go home. My Grandpa loved golf. So it’s only appropriate that the last picture I took of him was swinging a golf club.
My last night at the lake was extra special. I remember going down to the lake with my camera and just praying. Not sure why it was so special but now I understand. God was preparing me. Just look at the gorgeous sunset he painted that night? 

Grandpa, I miss you so much. I can’t even imagine arriving home in November and not having you there. Thank you for loving me and showing me how to love. And teaching me all that you know about Christ and His love for me. I know that a party is going on in Heaven at this very moment. 

I love you.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 
Isaiah 40:31


  1. I'm sorry for your loss Anneli, thank you for carrying on his legacy of loving the Lord and loving people so well.

  2. Anneli...We've met a few times, I'm Martha Anderson Swanson. I'm Julie Johnson's aunt. I am the daughter of Roger and Janet Anderson, the founders of Camp Chautauqua.
    Your Grandpa baptized me, confirmed me, officiated our wedding, all of my grandparent's funerals, and prayed at my own Dad's. Your Grandma was my first Sunday School teacher, and my piano teacher. They together, taught me how to live the fruits of the Spirt, and what it means to sense the presence of the Holy Spirit.

    When I heard of his death, I was rejoicing - so happy that his struggle on this earth was over....and then I read your post. Now I'm grieving too. You are right! He was a Godly man. Such a gifted pastor. Let me share this story....

    About five years ago now, I was at Camp Chautauqua for the weekend, and there was a minor crisis in that no one was available to lead the service at the Chapel in the Woods that week. I had spent a little time with your Grandma and Grandpa, and knew that asking him was not an option. He couldn't remember his last meal - I was pretty sure that asking him to preach was a VERY bad idea. But, my brother, Mark Anderson, - insisted that this would be fine. Very skeptically, I stepped in to lead worship, hoping that it would help your Grandpa - to be responsible for preaching, and preaching ONLY. I introduced him, we switched spots, and I started praying fervently. I was SO skeptical. This was about to be a disaster. I had visions of stepping up to the podium to gracefully help him close. I didn't want him to be embarrassed, or for your Grandma to be nervous.....
    A man who preached the Gospel faithfully for 65 years, will be favored by God. Clearly, the Lord, put his hand right on him, spoke truth through him, and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was once again delivered from the podium of that natural outdoor sanctuary, where your sweet Grandpa Johnson had preached hundreds of times before. A place where he loved to worship and share the stories of faith.
    I learned my lesson.

    God is faithful to the faithful.

    We, the Anderson family, have adored your grandparents for decades, and we extend to you our sympathy and love. I can only imagine how far away you feel. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

    In Him,
    Martha Anderson Swanson

    1. Thank you for your sweet words and that story. Yes, that was my Grandpa alright. It always amazed us because he could be so confused as to what was going on and who was who, but when we asked him to pray? He knew how to talk to his Heavenly Father. He never wavered in that. And for that, I am so very very thankful.


  3. Disregard the Costa Rica reference. :)


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