I wrote a song called “G.D.P.” (short for Grandpa’s Dangerous Prayer), which sort of shared one of my grandad’s secrets. It’s worth emulating, because he was a man of God.
For years he and his wife opened their home to teenagers for an in-home Bible study. Many decades later, these former teens recall Gerald and Pearl Van Pelt as surrogate grandparents, because the unconditional love, laughter, joy, prayers and solid teaching they consistently received from them. You can hear more of this story in the book he wrote, called Teens Tell. He regularly shared the hope that was inside of him through “chance” evangelism encounters, people he talked to on the 700 Club counseling line he volunteered for and the many people that kept in touch with him for mentorship, discipleship and friendship.
I’ve told the story before, but he was a witness to probably the greatest revival we’ve seen in the last 50 years — The Jesus Movement. He had the privilege of discipling teens in Southern California in the 60s and 70s. He was basically at Ground Zero of the Jesus Movement. Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, the meetings at Maranatha Village, rallies and events with so many young people on fire for Jesus. Prior to this, he was a farmer in Kansas and he and his wife got born again and fell in love with Jesus. God put it on their hearts to work with young people, but one day out of the blue God spoke to him.
Can’t us ya.”
He replied to the Lord, “What?!”
“That’s right,” God said, “You hate someone. I can’t use you.”
At that moment, he instantly knew the guy that God was pointing out. Apparently there was some guy at the Methodist Church in Beloit, Kansas, that my grandad had a falling out with. His immediate reaction was to obey God, make peace with this man and get back to the place where God could use him.
As I’ve shared that story before, some have reacted as if this point hit home. If it applies to you, do what’s right — stop hating and start making peace.
After booking a trip back to Kansas from Southern California (not a short trip), my grandad made peace with this man and then returned home and began to see God use him mightily. He saw real, lasting fruit in his life.
Not only were Grandad Gerald and Grandma Pearl faithful to the Lord and loved by their church family, they were deeply endeared to all their blood family relatives. Each one of us still lights up with the memory of their lives. They made very intentional efforts to communicate to each of their relatives how Jesus was real and God’s love was available to us.
All that to say, this man and his wife were real. They were solid. They made a difference and they should be glad and confident that God used them.
This brings me to my point for this blog today. While my grandad had character, integrity, faithfulness and credibility as a believer, he didn’t rest on his laurels.
Yes, I believe he entered God’s rest while he was here (he passed away in the early 90s) — meaning he didn’t strive to earn his salvation or earn God’s approval. I think he truly operated in the understanding that all the essential work — the work to get His heavenly Father’s approval, right-standing with his God and everyday peace. He entered God’s rest (as the book of Hebrews implores us to do), but he didn’t retire or quit from growth and learning. He kept his brain active, sharp and expanding. He was a vociferous reader and a student of God’s Word. He availed himself of all the technology he could (like cassette tapes, television, radio and mass cassette duplicators to send relevant messages to those he felt could use it.
How do I know he kept growing and learning? Because I saw him at leisure. I saw him waiting in line at Dairy Queen or some other business waiting room. He’d sit down and pull out some 3×5 index cards that he had hand written. He would go over Bible verses that he was committing to memory! I don’t know about you, but to me that’s impressive. I think my tendency would be to rest on my laurels and kick back mentally — take a break from learning and stretching my mind. Memorizing anything is work to my brain!
I’m sure my grandad knew how to relax. He had a swimming pool in his backyard for crying out loud. He just didn’t put his mind on cruise control. He kept active. He kept working. He kept growing. That’s a huge example and lesson for me.