Monday, February 20, 2006

euel austin smith Euel Austin Smith December 15, 1921 - February 12, 2006 Euel Austin Smith was my grandfather (my mother's father). While sitting on a beach in south Taiwan, I found out my grandfather died (cell phones are amazing). I was alone. I know that my grandfather was not there anymore. And, I know that I had already told him goodbye. But funerals are for the living--to remember, to comfort, to be comforted. I knew this was a possibility when I first came to Taiwan . . . but I didn't know it was going to be this hard. For nearly 28 years of my life, I have had four living grandparents. What a blessing! I am also blessed to have a rich godly heritage. I come from a multi-generational line of ancestors who believed in the power and truth of the Bible, trusted Christ as Savior, and worshiped God. And I am thankful, so thankful, for this incredible blessing. My grandfather was 84 years old. He and my grandmother were married for nearly 63 years. When they were juniors in high school, he had just moved to Friendship, Arkansas. My grandmother, seeing he was a handsome young man, was brave enough to ask him to sign her yearbook. He signed it, "I'd like to get to know you better." Ha! Did he ever!! :) My grandfather started a family line that includes four daughters, one son, thirteen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. And what a great family it is too! I spent more time with my grandfather in the years right before I came to Taiwan, when he was in his late 70's and very early 80's, than I did as a child. I remember him as a man with a great sense of humor, who loved his wife, and who was very easy going. I remember once, when my sister and I were teenagers, he hid two giant eggs outside at Easter. We were too young to play with the others, but he had not forgotten us. Inside each egg was a little cash. But, what I remember most about that day was that it seemed to make him happy to make us happy. I remember going camping with him and grandma. That was the weekend I burned my pinkie finger on a cigarette lighter because I didn't know what one was. He took me swimming and fishing. And, at night before bed, all three of us read silently to ourselves--that left a big impression on me. Both of them highly valued and enjoyed reading. For the last few years, each time I left his home, I would go over to his chair to kiss his cheek and tell him goodbye. Each time he would tear a little and whisper in my ear "we are proud of you." Sometimes he would even kiss my cheek too. I read The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge this week. I did not expect to find in it words about death, but I did....
friendships needed In life, we need friends. But, we need different kinds of friends. From Paul's life, we can see some of the different kinds of friendships we need. I think we need in life: a Barnabas, a Paul, a Timothy,* and other companions. Paul and Barnabas were close friends. Barnabas helped Paul get started in the ministry (Acts 11:19-26). After that, their names are mentioned together as a pair twenty times in just a few chapters of Acts: Paul and Barnabas, Barnabas and Paul. These two spent quite a bit of time together preaching the Good News; they were co-workers in ministry. Paul and Barnabas also had the freedom to "disagree strongly" with each other (Acts 15:36-40). We all need friends who we can accomplish like-mind goals with, people who will be there with us and have the same vision and heartbeat that we do, but who are not afraid to challange us and hold us accountable to truth. In addition to needing friends to walk along side us, we need friends who can mentor us and friends who we can mentor. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul calls Timothy his "true child in the faith." It is obvious in his letters to Timothy that Paul is teaching and guiding Timothy, taking him under his proverbial wing. I have always treasured the "Pauls" in my life, older women who have walked the path before me who can help me to follow it. And, the same for me--to look back and help the others coming behind me. I think it is important that we have mentors in our life and that we mentor others as well. I often tend to picture Paul "out there" on his own trailblazing and spreading the gospel alone. But that is not an accurate picture. Paul had other companions, male--Titus, Silas, Luke, Mark, Apollos, Epaphroditus, Aquila--and female--Pricillia, Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, and Syntyche--just to name a few of his brothers and sisters in the Lord. In Paul's letters to the various churches, he mentions some by name sending greetings or thanking for help sent. Paul clearly had many friends who he lived in close communion with and considered beloved. I too need others. I need to be supported and helped. I need comapionship and fellowship. Friendships and friends in all shapes and sizes are needed! I may be walking an unknown path, but I do not walk it alone--praise the Lord! *This idea is not originally mine. I once heard a speaker in college talk about finding in our lives a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. His idea of types of friends to seek out has never left me.

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