The Dandelion in My Life

            Let me share some “true confessions,” and you don’t even have to read “People” magazine or watch Oprah for these.  I come from a relatively poor family background.  Both sets of grandparents were farmers.  My relationship with extended family members is rather peculiar.  I seem to be a black sheep.  They love me, I’m sure; but they don’t understand me.  I don’t relate well to most of them either.  Family reunions aren’t my idea of a good time.  With that in mind, I was both surprised and honored to be asked to give eulogies at the funerals of my maternal grandparents in 2004.  They died within three months of each other.  Speaking at Granddad’s funeral was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

            Granddad was a truly colorful and boisterous character.  He overshadowed Grandma, the quiet one.  My grandparents lived by old fashioned values, having gone through the Depression of the 1930’s and World War II.  Some days it was tough for him to get out of his easy chair and get going, but when he did, he worked hard.  Lean times and a self reliant spirit taught him to be a “jack of all trades.”  As a big and hearty man physically, there was no mistaking his presence in the room.  His booming voice carried far, often to the dismay and embarrassment of those nearby.  You didn’t want to be around when he lost his temper.  He swore like a sailor, but told very few dirty jokes.  However, he was free with racial epithets and wasn’t shy about expressing his opinion about somebody’s clothes, hair, weight, or something else about their appearance.  He got a kick out of story telling and mimicking various friends and family.  It sounds cliché, but he was larger than life, leaving his mark wherever he went.  All in all, he could be endearing and very generous.  Since I spent parts of several summers at my grandparents’ farm, he played an important role in shaping who I’ve become.  I loved him.  He made quite an impact on me.  Sometimes though I think there’s too much of him in my genetic makeup.

            By now you’re wondering what any of this has to do with dandelions.  When I was preparing thoughts to share at Granddad’s funeral, I couldn’t think how to characterize him.  We think he may have received Christ near the end of his life, but it’s not for certain.  I’d love to see him in heaven one day.  What if he didn’t receive Christ though?  What about that incredible life that touched so many?  I’m a firm believer in the sovereignty of God and am convinced everybody has a purpose.  For some reason, dandelions came to mind.  I’ve liked them since I was a boy.  My eulogy compared Granddad to dandelions.  While many think dandelions are a nuisance, they’re dependable every year under the toughest growing conditions and have many uses.  Coffee substitute can be made from the roots, salad greens from the leaves, and wine from the heads.  People can think what they will about lowly dandelions, but they’re part of the Creation in which we live.  As such, they glorify God in ways only He knows best.

            So it was with Granddad, and so it is with you and me.  We fit into a much larger picture than we realize.  We each serve God’s purposes, whether we realize or understand it.  As my dad often said, “It takes all kinds to make a world.”  Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”  Are you a born again believer?  Then you’re part of the marvelous Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-27).  Praise the Lord, He knows each one of us and has a place for us!

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