He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. —Micah 6:8
I’ve been blessed with loving men in my life—my husband, my brother, my 91-year-old father, and both of my grandfathers. As I contemplate Father’s Day this Sunday, I could write about any of them.
But my paternal grandfather has been on my mind a lot lately… He was a simple man from a Swiss immigrant family. His last year of school was the eighth grade. After that he worked as a farmhand. Twelve-hours a day, six days a week. The money he earned went to his parents.
He wandered away from the Lord as an adolescent, but then as a young adult he came back. And never left. I remember his prayers throughout my childhood. He spoke to the Lord in such a way that it felt as if God was in the room with us—and of course God was.
At his 90th birthday party he talked about how, when my father was a foot soldier in Europe during World War II, he’d prayed everyday for his son’s safety. And that his son wouldn’t have to kill anyone. What a merciful prayer. Dad certainly fired on the enemy but all at a distance. He never had to engage in face-to-face combat.
I know my grandfather wasn’t perfect. He, like all of us, learned on the go as he parented his children. He went through difficult times, including supporting his family during the Great Depression. He worked as a laborer and a logger—hard, hard jobs in challenging environments.
But by the time I knew him he was well tempered and seemed perfect. In fact, when I envisioned God as a child, I thought of my grandfather.
One time when my grandparents were visiting, when I was about nine, I sassed my mom. I felt bad about it, but what made really cringe was that my kind and gentle grandfather witnessed my bad behavior. I apologized to my mother and then went and sat by Grandpa on the front steps and told him I was sorry too.
“That’s all right,” he said, putting his arm around me. That was all. No patronizing words. No condemnation. Just pure acceptance.
When I write about the Amish I often think about Grandpa—the shared Swiss heritage, the hard work, and the simple life that was well lived.
When I read Micah 6:8, I also think of him. Humble, merciful, and just—that was the grandfather I knew.