Saturday, May 20, 2006

George Banwell

My Grandfather went to be with Christ on the 14th May.

My earliest memory of my Grandfather and I guess may grandparents is having home made cream soda in his garden in the summer. It was very simple: one mug of lemonade with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My family all loved it. I have many happy memories playing with my brothers and sisters and cousins in his garden drinking cream soda.

Music has been a big feature of my life. My earliest memory of music is at my Grandfathers house playing in what I think was called an accordion. You pressed a button and it played a chord. You run your finger up an down a metal strip and it moved through the notes in the chord. I loved the sound it made and he would always let me play on it.

There are also some less politically correct memories. The funniest being him chasing his border-collie called Blackie across a field of African men shouting "come here blackie"!

But there are also many attributes that he modeled that I will remember and try to hold in my own life.

As Christians we are called to let or "yes be yes and our no be no" Matt. 5 v 37. You were rarely left in any doubt as to what my Grandfather thought and in a culture where people can be all to willing to tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear, his approach was not only biblical but needed.

He had a an ability to see past the peoples mistakes and bad decisions and see the good in their hearts.

I have been humbled by his response to all that happened over the last few weeks. From the calm confidence that he was going to be with Christ and the testimony that he shared with his doctor to the fact that one of his priorities over his final few days was to shield those he cared about from the discomfort of his final few weeks. He demonstrated such inner strength.

Skip back a few months and you have me preparing to leave for New Zealand. One particular fear that I had not been able to clear was what relationships with my family would be like when I came back after 3 or more years. Many people had told me it was an understandable fear as did my Grandfather. But what he gently shared with me was that how he was away for over 5 years fighting in the second world war. He told me how he came back after 5 years at war and his relationships with he family were still good (and I have seen that to be the case) and that I was going overseas to do Christian work and that when I cam back I could be confident that things would be okay. Those words quieted that fear. But it also an example of how much he cared (which was something he showed in many other ways too) in that he was willing to share from what must have been a difficult part of his life in order to help me.

One of the biggest lessons he taught me (and he taught it to my parents first and then taught it to us himself and through them) is the importance of family. From making family a priority to being aware of what is going on in each others lives; Basically loving and valuing each other regardless of circumstance. Being so far away from may family this is something I have come to value and realise in a new way. We live in a culture where family is becoming less and less important, sadly even amongst Christians. It may not be the most important thing I have learned from him but certainly one of the things I value the most.

There is so much more I could say and this is far from adequate and far from complete but I wanted to write something.

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