The letter telling of Grandfather’s visit brought mixed emotions.
“Not again,” Lucas groaned. “Dad, Grandpa just left here three weeks ago. Now he’s coming for Christmas? He’ll spoil everything!”
Lucas’s father sighed deeply, folding the letter he had just received. “I’m sorry, Son. I know it’s hard for you when he gives orders all the time. He acts as if he were still in the Army. The rest of the family won’t put up with it—that’s why he keeps coming back here.” He sighed again. “When your grandma was alive it was so much easier.”
“Dad, why is Grandpa so hard to get along with? He’s such a great person some of the time. But he gets mad so easily, and he’s so bossy that most of the time it’s hard to be around him.”
“Lucas, when I was a young boy there was a short time when my dad was a kind, helpful person. That was when our whole family went to church. During that time I realized my need of salvation and became a Christian. I was ten years old—two years younger than you are right now. But soon afterward, Dad was promoted and transferred to another base. We moved away from that church, and Dad seemed to lose interest in the things of God. He became bitter and angry at life, and resented anyone who tried to talk to him about God. Your grandma and I used to pray together for him. Even though she is dead now, I continue to pray that he’ll come back to God.”
“I’d think you’d get tired, Dad. How long have you been praying for Grandpa?”
“Over twenty-five years, Lucas. I’ll admit that sometimes I get discouraged. But Jesus said to keep on praying even when we don’t see the result right away. I know God wants Grandpa to be saved. One of these days Grandpa will want to be saved too. Anyway, the letter says he’ll be here in ten days.”
As the days passed, everyone was busy preparing for the Christmas season. Lucas couldn’t decide whether to be excited about Christmas or upset because Grandpa would be with them. In family devotions, the evening before Grandpa was to arrive, Dad prayed for him as usual. Lucas thought about how often Dad had prayed that prayer, and wondered again how he could keep praying the same thing for so many years. Grandpa would never change.
The next morning at the airport, as they walked down to the baggage claim, Lucas thought of how Grandpa would greet them. He’d shake hands with Dad, let Mom give him a hug, then he’d look at Lucas and say, “Well, Boy, haven’t changed much, have you? Still don’t know how to stand up straight. You’ll never be a good soldier if you don’t stand up straight.” Just the thought of Grandpa’s scowl made him stand up a little straighter.
Lucas watched expectantly to catch sight of his grandfather. It was not hard to spot him. Standing tall and erect as if he were still a soldier, he stood out in the crowd. “There he is, Dad!” Lucas pointed excitedly.
When Grandpa spotted them, his stern expression softened to one of glad recognition. He soon reached them, set down his bags, and hugged both Mom and Dad. Then he gently laid a hand on Lucas’s shoulder. “Sure am looking forward to Christmas, Boy. Thanks for letting me come.”
Lucas, prepared for a stern remark, could not think of what to say. He stammered, “We’re glad to have you, Grandpa.” Then, embarrassed, he picked up one of the bags and started toward the car.
Seated in the backseat with Grandpa, Lucas pretended to be interested in the passing traffic. But he was really listening to the conversation between his parents and his grandfather. What’s happened to him? Lucas thought. He’s almost as nice as Dad. We’re nearly home, and he hasn’t scolded me or found fault with anybody yet. Maybe this Christmas won’t be so bad after all.
That evening after dinner, Dad asked Lucas to bring him the Bible for family devotions. Uh-oh, Lucas thought, I wonder what will happen now. Grandpa always makes some excuse to leave before Bible reading. But to his amazement, Grandpa just scooted his chair back from the table, settled into a more comfortable position, and prepared to listen. Lucas looked from his father to his grandfather, hardly knowing what to think. Dad looked at Grandpa and smiled. “I think you had better tell Lucas what you told me a little while ago, Dad.”
Leaning forward in his chair, Grandpa spoke in a gentle voice. “Lucas, I know that your father has prayed every day for years for me to become a Christian. I want you to know that those prayers have been answered. I finally realized the reason I’d been so unhappy all these years. It was because I had left God out of my life. It was hard for me to give my life to God, Lucas, but I’m sure that He used the prayers of your grandmother and your father to help me pray. He’s forgiven me—I’m not the same grandfather I was before.”
Lucas’s eyes grew large, and he had to blink to keep from crying. So that was why Grandpa was so different. What a Christmas present! He could hardly believe that it had finally happened.
Dad opened the Bible. “One verse,” he said, “helped me keep praying even when it seemed as though there was no hope and no reason to keep on praying. In Luke 18:1, Jesus said, ‘Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.’ I figured if that was the Lord’s advice, it was good advice. And it worked!”