My Grandfather's Coat

Today would have been my grandfather’s 88th birthday. Pa Pa Art, was the only name I ever knew him by. He was a pillar in our family, the strong provider who had such a loving and generous side to himself. Leading by example, he gave everything- his time, his money, his heart; to set up his family and others for success.

Facing adversities throughout life; he managed to get married, have a family, serve in the Navy, hold executive positions in businesses across the nation, and travel the world. He had a knack for history, studying our family tree, and sharing stories from past experiences.

One spring break, in my awkward middle school years; my Pa Pa Art paid for my siblings and I to come visit my grandparents in Tennessee. This might not sound as glamorous as your typical spring break to Cancun or Myrtle Beach with friends, but spending time with my grandparents was always an adventure. Pa Pa planned out the entire trip of museums and sites to see, spoiled us with incredible home cooked meals, and shared story after story from his past.

There was one story from that spring break trip which my Pa Pa shared that has always stuck with me. I can remember him sitting in the driver’s seat of his red pick up truck with tazmanian devil floor mats. Although I was tired from the long day, I was completely tuned in when he began to reflect on what it was like to leave home at such a young age.

My grandfather grew up in harsh times, in times where his family was unable to financially support him and his three brothers all at once. On that drive home from our day trip, he shared with me how he was asked to move out of his family’s house and get a job at the mere age of 16. After a full day of classes he would go straight to work in the evenings and worked extra hours on the weekends, just to get by.

The first summer that he lived on his own, he put aside all of his hard earned money for a nice coat that would get him through the winter. With his hectic work and school schedule, having a social life slipped through his fingers. One evening, he was able to finally purchase the new coat he was saving up for. After picking out this coat, he decided to attend a party that he was invited to. Throwing his coat on the bed where everyone piled their coats, he joined the party, was able to relax and be a teenager for once. On his way out, he returned to the bed to pick up his new coat, and low and behold it was gone.

After Pa Pa Art shared his story with me, he didn’t follow up with a reason to why he shared it. No “lesson learned- watch after and take care of the items you invest in” or “don’t steal from others- you never know how hard they worked to pay for their things.” ...Just kept silent.... I sat there speechless, not knowing how to respond. More so because I was so frustrated that my selfless, big hearted, generous grandpa had something stolen from him when he least deserved it.

As I look back on the story that my grandfather shared with me years ago, I think many of us can relate to a time where we have felt that life has gone unfairly. Where we lost something that was valuable to us when we least expected it. Where life did not end up the way we had prepared and planned it out to be.

Maybe you lost a loved one too soon. Maybe you had a relationship that you put so much into fail you. Maybe you put in all the hard work into something and did not get the results you were looking for. Maybe you’ve had a time where you felt that you did everything right, but everything turned out wrong.

Though we can be intentional with how we live our lives, there are just somethings that are out of our control. In a moment, we could lose everything important to us here on earth.

But there is hope.

When we go through times that are unexpected and bound to wreck us, there is one thing we can find full security in.

That would be the work that was accomplished by Jesus Christ at the cross, overcoming sin and death.

God had great plans when he created us for himself. We were created to enjoy him and bring him glory as we worship and reflect him with our lives. Although sin entered the world and altered what he first had planned, he made a way out and rescued us. By placing our faith in Christ and choosing to lay our lives down to follow him, we can have a secure hope in what Christ accomplished for us at the cross. Paul affirms in Romans 8:31-39 that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

Though we are undeserving, the sacrifice of Christ brought us a reward. In Christ, we belong to God and are given new life. We are also promised to one day have eternal life in Heaven where “...there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4, NLT).”

When you are dealing with an unexpected situation you can be assured that it will be temporary and you can look forward to what is to come. In Hebrews 13:14 (NLT) it states “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

Besides the fact that Christ’s accomplishment will one day unite us with him in Heaven, He also made a way for us to have a relationship with him today. We can turn to him and find all that we need in him.

If you feel let down by an unexpected outcome, don’t view this as a punishment but let this be an opportunity for you to receive what God sacrificed so much for; a relationship with him. Draw near to him. Know that he uses all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). He cares for you and wants to comfort you in your loss or unexpected situation.

Find what you are looking for in him. Do you need peace for the anxiety situations may bring? Do you need comfort for a broken heart? Do you need strength from being worn out? Do you need hope when your present and future situation looks hopeless? Do you need direction when you don’t know where to go next? Come to him, hand over your pain, worries, and sorrow to receive his love, his healing, and his hope. Philippians 4:6 (NLT) shows us to “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

I pray that as you turn to God and find all that you need in him, that you would be able to praise God for what he has done on your behalf. That even when you unexpectedly lose something valuable here on earth, that you’d be able to look to Christ and remember where your secured treasure is found. That your peace and hope would not be rooted in the results of your circumstances, but in the display of God’s love through the sacrifice of his son.

Kellie Martin