More than a week ago my uncle Aaron, the oldest in his family, went home to heaven May 31, 2013, after an extended illness. His family and friends gathered in Ohio June 3 to remember him and to lay his body to rest. Despite the bittersweet nature of our gathering, God’s grace to us was real. We were able to rejoice in the love and peace that God gave Aaron and his family. His passing brought to mind many memories for all of us. I have many as well, but there’s one that stuck with me for a long time after it occurred and will continue to impact my life into the future.
The picture at the top of this post was taken on the top of a slope in Calgary, Canada. The occasion was his son’s wedding to a lovely Canadian, Salina. Aaron, his other son Nevin, two cousins and I took the opportunity to try out some super Rocky Mt skiing. Aaron was really plowing into the physical activity craze that he’d been able to indulge in recently and I was impressed by his vigor and stamina. Ever since then I’ve made it a personnel goal, God-willing, to be as energetic and fit as he was at that age. But this is not the thing that will really stick with me.
On the way back to our hotel, I was riding with Aaron and his son who fell asleep after all the activity. I was feeling a little blue from the altitude sickness I had gotten earlier but couldn’t sleep like Nevin. (In fact I got really sick…but Aaron was bursting with pep – and I was the one 20+yrs younger!) So Aaron and I talked about faith and church life and other life questions during the hour or more drive back to the hotel in Calgary. It was a rare opportunity – one that hadn’t presented itself before or since. I figured Aaron, because of his many life experiences, might have some answers or advice for me, his young nephew.
I don’t remember much of the details we talked about, but I believe his advice-to-remember surfaced in a context about church disagreements and splits, etc. I believe I asked him how you affect real change in your church or how do you help people understand your convictions or encourage others to grow in the faith and knowledge of Jesus. Something like that. And here’s where he said something that just stuck with me and continues to stay with me. “You don’t have to, nor are you supposed to convince, teach, argue your positions or convictions onto people. You don’t need to wait for everyone to accept or do what you think is right before you do it. You live it yourself. Live it first, then talk about it. Live it and let God take care of the rest.”
Now those were not his exact words, but that was the gist; the idea of living out your convictions first and boldly no matter what others think. Let your actions do the talking. That spoke deeply to me. It is a way that reflects the quiet, patient ways of God and exhibits the love, grace and forbearance we are to extend to others. It’s a humble and out-of-the-spotlight way. I still think about those words and often realize that I fail often in practicing that admonition. Since that conversation I’ve read and heard other faithful servants of God who’ve said things along similar lines, and it confirms the wisdom of what my uncle passed onto me. This is the memory that will stick with me.
Thank you uncle Aaron and may your words of wisdom live on. We will miss you; your energy, your laughter and your wisdom. But we know we’ll meet again on the mountains of God someday; Hallelujah!