If anyone I’ve ever known fit the bill for what John Wesley described as entire sanctification, it would be my Papaw (pronounced “paw paw”). Papaw loved the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength and loved his neighbor as himself. Those who will have the burden of hearing me preach will doubtless hear many examples of how important this man has been in my life. Papaw died in 1998 and I miss him still.

Papaw and I in front of my hometown church, Oscar UMC. This picture actually made it to the cover of the Lexington Herald Leader one day, but that’s another story for another time. 🙂

One of Papaw’s spiritual gifts was that of encouragement. Being a recipient of God’s grace throughout his life and of generous support from his community during a difficult financial time, I witnessed Papaw give public and private support to others in a variety of ways in their time of need. One way his gift of encouragement manifested itself was in his craft of writing letters by hand. I was the recipient of such a letter after announcing to my family my intentions to enter into the ministry. I had just turned seventeen years old and declared these intentions at our usual family dinner (or you may call it lunch, depending on which sub-culture you live in) after church one Sunday. Later that week, I received a letter in the mail, which is pictured at the bottom of this post (in the caption is the letter’s contents, in case it’s illegible to you). This letter was the last one I received from him before his death later that year.

I share this letter with you because I have found myself opening this letter time and time again, not only for the sake of the fact that it was his last letter to me, but because of its rich and rather prophetic content. His words have proven true as my vocational journey has taken its interesting yet subtle twists and turns these last fourteen years. In particular, his affirming words that God would lead as I would pursue the area of service to which God was calling me and the final statement reminding of God’s presence with me come what may, have become etched in my memory. I think you might find his words could be applied more broadly as well, so I hope these words will encourage you!

To Jeffrey Wed PM Jan 14 1998 Dear Grandson,
Words cannot express my happiness, my appreciation for your announcement Sunday of your feeling and hearing God’s call for a deeper commitment to serve Him.
We do not think it too important for you to decide immediately the area of service you are to pursue – God will lead. But we do hereby pledge our full support, whatever it may be.
Sue & I will continue to pray for you daily (just as we have for many years). And not only for you but for each of our dear children and other grandchildren.
Just remember, always, that nothing can happen to you – no setback, no disappointment, no temptation – nothing that you & God together can not handle.
We love you.
Best regards,
Papaw

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