Recently on learning of yet another COVID death, I thought back ten years ago when we had a rash of deaths among family and friends. Then early May 4, 2011, I got a call. “We’ve lost another G.” The “G” was for Graham, the Graham was my Uncle Roy.
Years had passed since I’d seen my uncle, aunt, and cousins. How did so much time slip away? Work had been consuming, especially in Ciloa. And sometimes life just got in the way. As I drove to the funeral, I wondered what it would be like seeing everyone.
After a long drive, I finally made my way to a crowded sitting room. Many unfamiliar people were milling about, but then a cousin came over. “I knew it was you as soon as you walked through the door.” What a warm, comforting feeling!
Both the One who makes us holy and…
Soon I reunited with those I had not seen for so long. We hugged, teared up, laughed, and comforted each other. And for the next few hours I enjoyed a loving presence flooded with past memories and future hope.
I also realized why these people were special. It wasn’t being a Graham. (Not everyone is so blessed.) In the mix were Haggards, Bracketts, Fergusons, Defores … Schlossers and Voslers, Smiths, Daws and more. Even Dooleys. Yes…Dooleys.
There was a bond among us, joining our past to the present. We were all characters. Each unique, perhaps a bit odd at times (some more so than others). But together…the lives and stories, the good and bad, the happy and sad…we were family.
…we who are made holy are of one family! 1
Those memories got me thinking of all who follow Jesus. Paul calls us a family of believers. 2 He urges us to…encourage and build each other up…be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose…[stand] as one for the faith of the gospel. 3
We have different backgrounds, languages, talents and skills. God gives us different spiritual gifts and tasks to carry out. We are unique, even odd, compared to the world…a bunch of characters, no one better than anyone else.
Yet together…the lives and stories, the good and bad, the happy and sad…we are family. There is a bond among us, joining our past to the present. But not just any family. We are the family of God! Already a member? Let me know. If not…well…characters welcome.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) Read Hebrews 2:11. (2) Read Galatians 6:10. (3) Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Read Philippians 2:2b and 1:27-28.
Pictures: Banner Photo: The Power of One, Destination Ministries. 1st Photo: Roy C. Graham by David Graham. 2nd Photo: Hoang Leon Nguyen/The Republican. 3rd Photo: From ThePreachersWord/Wordpress.com.