While I was in Bangladesh, my Grandmother, Concordia Munro Searle, passed away. She was 94, and though her mind was sharp, her body was tired. As one of my cousins put it, from where Grandma Connie stood, it was a short walk to heaven. I’m very happy for her. She was always a person who was full of wonder—always spotting something interesting in life—kind of a smart girlish inquisitive quality. I can see her wandering around heaven, enjoying a nice surpise every minute and delighting in the company of all those interesting people—especially the Lord himself, of course.
So I’m happy for Grandma Connie. But I find that whenever I think of her, and I’m thinking of her a lot these days, a very deep sadness comes over me. Without her, the world is a little harder, a little more mechanical, a little more cynical and heartless and strained. I feel like everyone needs to find a good coat.
I have two authoritative sources for understanding the fruit of the Spirit. First there’s Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, vs. 22 & 23: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”My second source is the Christlike personality of my Grandma Connie. She truly personified all of these qualities. And I’m not saying this because she was my Grandma and was always nice to me. I honestly think she was just as nice to total strangers as she was to me. No, she had the kind of Christlikeness that goes way beyond nice. Real kindness is always better than niceness.
You see, the thing is, Grandma Connie lived in such a way that there was no doubt that her life was rooted in the grace of God. She loved because He first loved. Her life is how I know He’s real.
Driving me home from the ranch one Sunday night when I was 10 years old, Grandma took ten minutes to share with me the struggle she had to depend on the Lord rather than on her own strength, like starting over every day. That casual conversation has haunted and sustained me ever since.
It was hard to be so far away when Grandma died, but it was comforting to me to know that she would have loved what I was doing—seeing a new and interesting place, meeting new and interesting people, and talking to them about the love of God in Christ.