Posted by: Terry | August 12, 2015

Granny and Gudrun, role models for me

Granny did not just go to church; she went there because of God. Some would say she was religious, but religion creates obligation, for her, being at church was as natural as breathing. One moment stands out in my mind.

I was in the eighth grade, about 13, it was an evening service at Milwaukie First Baptist, and Don Baker was the pastor. In the days before that Sunday, Granny and I had talked about baptism, at the end of the message she walked with me to the front, I had decided I wanted to be baptized, a public statement of my desire to follow Christ. It was real and I never felt it was religious, or pressured.

The second time I went down to the alter in a church was 5 or 6 years later at Hinson Church in Portland. The feeling at that time was that I wanted to become a preacher, a pastor. It just seemed the right and natural thing to do.

I preached my first sermon, mini-sermon, in high school a year or so before. It was a Youth Night at the church, Jim Gwinn arranged to have three of us preach: Jim Brewster, Tim McLaughlin, and me. All I remember is that something clicked that night and I knew that public speaking was something I loved, not something that most people enjoy.

Except for a brief stint as a youth pastor at the Independent Bible Church of Port Angeles at $45 per week, my preaching and teaching has been unpaid, like Paul making tents to support himself. For the last 17 years I have taught an adult class most every week for a group affectionately called The Class. It has been an honor to minister to some amazing folks, most of which are not there for the religion, they are there for God.

As I write this Gudrun is on my mind, she is well into her nineties, her health is declining and the expectation is that she will be going home soon. Like Granny she truly loves her God and Savior. Gudrun always sat in the front row of The Class, whether singing, praying, or listening to teaching her face glowed with her love of her Savior. She truly knows the Savior; it is not about doctrine, not about religion, she loves the one who loved her first.

When we meet someone socially one of the first questions we ask is, “What do you do? Then, admit it or not, we form judgments about the person based on the job they have. When we meet someone and the conversation turns to church we, at least in the circle I grew up in, asked, “Where do you go to church?” Armed with that information we would run through a doctrinal checklist in our mind to evaluate if it measured up to ours, and then we could determine if they were “real Christians” or not.

I have spent most of my life convinced that there was truth, and that it could be found. I have spent many hours in study and contemplation over truth. Yet as the years pass I am more concerned with “knowing Christ” than intellectual debate. Religion and ‘ism’s’ at their best are attempts to explain how we relate to God, that is admirable. But when they become an end unto themselves they are no longer of value. The issue is not Evangelical, Wesleyan, Calvinist, or Armenian, but do you desire to know Christ.

My desire in these graying years is to be more like Granny and Gudrun, experiencing that peace and love that the Savior offers. Entering into the rest that he has so generously offered. “Forgetting what is behind, I press on.”



  1. Another excellent insight.

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