One year ago today, Jeff received the call from his grandmother that his father, Stephen Gray, had passed away. It was a very confusing, shocking time for our family, because it was unexpected. There were so many issues yet to be resolved......and suddenly, no time to resolve them. Throughout this year I personally have come to the realization that although there were many things left unresolved, if we truly do believe that he, at one time, came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then, for him, everything is resolved. In his glorified body there are no regrets, no tears, no addictions, no painful memories. And that is how I think we should think of him. He is perfect, and only capable of good things. And he would certainly be proud of his family. Here are a few reasons why....
Jeff--In the moment of crisis, you stepped in as the "leader" of the family. You have sacrificially given countless hours of your time to make sure that the legacy (whether good or bad) that your father left behind was properly taken care of in a way that was respectful of your grandmother, your mother and your siblings. You worked to shield them from potential hurts, and have evidenced a profound joy in being able to "pass on" the good things left from your father. You have grown in your relationship with Jesus Christ, in your own role as father, and as a loving, Godly husband to your wife. You have made it a personal goal to abhor evil things that would cast a snare around you and endanger those that you love. You have provided a good life for your family, and you continue to lead them in a godly way, lovingly becoming involved in many aspects of our church in an effort to keep your family on firm ground. He is proud of you.
Jill--You stepped out of a comfortable role in your career, and together, with Gary, have created a beautiful home, complete with the effervescent smile of your precious baby girl, Sierra. You have given of yourself to her with love and fierce loyalty. You have created a home in which she will be nurtured and taught to love Jesus. You seek to give her the best life you possibly can, even when the decisions are hard. You are striving to please God in your home as a wife and mother, making sure that Sierra will never doubt your love for her. He would be proud of you, Jill, and my goodness, oh so proud of that little girl.
Jason--You became a husband! You married a beautiful, intelligent girl, who, like your mom, has a desire to care for others. You also became a homeowner--and although those little neighbor kids may drive you crazy, it is a lovely home, and you and Ashley have woven your artistic talents together made it even better than it was before. You continue to go to work everyday to support your family. Your desire is that your wife would never do without, and that she would have the best of everything. You are working hard at finishing school, something that might have been really easy to just let go. And yet, you decided to stick with it, even though you knew it would be hard. God will reward you for your hard work, Jason, and your dad would be so proud.
Sharon--This has been perhaps the hardest on you. So many years ago you did what was right for your family, even though it was not what you wanted, and your heart has never mended. You stayed true to what you knew was right, and look, just look at the generations you have produced! Look at the hardworking sons, the hardworking, caring daughter, and the precious, precious grandchildren! In your heart you never stopped loving him, and I know that you have grieved as a wife would grieve for her husband, and re-lived so many memories over this last year. And yet, you have shown a determination to keep going, to keep making a better life. You have showered us all with love and generosity, even in the midst of a rigorous schedule. You give so selflessly, even when you are weary. You are almost finished with your master's program! You have been the example of "finishing strong", and signing your name to a job well-done. Your children are so proud of you! And your husband, in heaven, with clear eyes and well body, and mind completely encompassed with the beauty of Christ, is so incredibly proud of you.
And so, on this anniversary, it is not the life of Stephen Virgil Gray upon which I contemplate. It is his legacy, his greatest accomplishment on this earth--his family--of which I am so proud to be a part.