Sunday, January 11, 2009

Goodbye, W. W. Gumm

In this first post of the new year, I say goodbye to my grandpa, Wilford Warren "Dad" Gumm. He passed away on December 28 at the age of 89.

He was a man of God for over 50 years.

One of the things about him that made the greatest impression on me was how he knew and understood the value of work. He knew that he was working for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and he was working not for something as mundane as money, but for the reward, his inheritance, which he would someday receive from Jesus.

He was the epitome of Colossians 3:22-24. "Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

As citizens of the heavenly country, we are called to live lives free of ungodliness, including greed, which is the root of all kinds of evil. My grandpa was one of those increasingly rare individuals whose life was indeed free from the love of money. He was a generous man. But I think he was that way because he understood where his treasure was, and where his true home was.

I don't think that was ever more evident than when the house where he and my grandma had lived for over 50 years had burned down. I remember this vividly, because I was the one who got the phone call. Grandpa and Grandma were on vacation, and my mom and dad were out of town as well. My wife and I were also planning a trip, but by God's providence had not left yet.

As we sifted through the charred contents of the house, we were absolutely stunned. Many of us thought that Grandpa probably was handling the situation better than we did. His reaction was to state simply that he was just passing through, and that this was not his home. His simple statement demonstrated a profound belief in God's providence, His provision, and His promises. I haven't forgotten it, and like many others who heard it, I pray that when a test like that comes upon me, I will be found as faithful, out of a similar understanding of where my true home lies.

In preparing to say something at the funeral, I came across this excerpt from Richard Baxter's "Directions at the Grief at the Death of a Friend." It was in the Teaching Resources issue about The Death of Believers.

Yet your grief for the death of friends must be very different both in degree and kind.
1. For ungodly friends, you must grieve for their own sakes, because if they died such, they are lost for ever.
2. For your godly friends, you must mourn for the sake of yourselves and others, because God has removed such as were blessings to those about them.
3. For choice magistrates, and ministers, and other instruments of public good, your sorrow must be greater, because of the common loss and the judgment thereby inflicted on the world.
4. For old, tried Christians that have overcome the world and lived so long till age and weakness make them almost unserviceable to the church, and who groan to be unburdened and to be with Christ, your sorrow should be least and your joy and thanks for their happiness should be greatest.

Goodbye, Grandpa. Our sorrow is great, but God is good, and He has given us the Comforter. Our joy is greater, because you are out of pain, and present with your Savior. Our thanks is greatest, to God for allowing you such a long and productive life, and to you for your love, your generosity, and your testimony, both to your family and to countless others throughout your life. You are already missed, yet we are confident that one day we will be reunited with you in the heavenly city.

1 comment:

Leah Belle said...

So sorry for your loss, Matt. I will be praying for you. Thanks for this insightful post. It is a beautiful tribute to your grandfather and a needed reminder of what is truly important.