My grandma, Elizabeth Jenkins, passed away on Monday evening. She lived a full and fruitful life. In fact, she must have taken God’s command to be “fruitful and multiply” quite seriously as she and my grandpa Jack had nine children together. All nine of those children have turned out to be incredible people, which speaks loudly of the type of person she was.
Many of her children were already gathered around her bed as my family and I walked into her hospital room a few days ago. There were four generations present as we laughed, hugged, and enjoyed each other's company. Even though it was obvious that she was just steps away from life’s finish line, she still managed to flash that same contagious smile I was used to seeing.
I said my goodbyes and was headed out the door when I looked back to see her struggling to sit up. It was apparent that she had something important to say, so I quickly turned around to join the others who were still gathered at her bed side. In a soft spoken but commanding voice, she said, “Love and forgiveness is what heals people.” They were the final words I heard her speak.
Those words reminded me of what Jesus said to his disciples just hours before he tasted death. I imagine he probably had the same serious and commanding tone as he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34)
As I’ve reflected on these words, a sense of conviction and inspiration has settled in my heart. The conviction is that religion without love is mere theory. The inspiration is to experience the life that I was created to live—a life of love.
What does a life of love look like? Well, I think I've seen a pretty good example.