Today is a very special day on the calendar for me! April 17th is my grandfather’s birthday! Grandpa has been in heaven with Jesus for almost 30 years.
In fact, our grandparents were so influential in our lives, that my sister Lynne got married on my grandpa’s birthday, and my sister Krissy got married on my grandparents anniversary!
My Grandpa stands tall there among men twice his height is stature. He was not a large physical man here on earth, but he was a giant spiritually.
Oh, he didn’t write any best selling books or speak on large stages to hundreds of listeners. He didn’t start any overseas missions or run any successful para-church organizations. He was a quiet man who loved his Lord well and put his family first! His example in my life of how to live out the Christian life was priceless and unmatchable. As far as I am concerned, He walked among the giants of The Faith.
Gilbert Peter Switter was raised Catholic by a German immigrant family. He grew up with little financial stability and less than a High School degree. However, intelligent he was, and he quickly made enough money to buy a model T Ford and impress Lela May Welty. His desire to marry her caused conflict when their faiths collided. Through pain, sorrow and many arguments Gilbert chose to marry my grandmother and reject his catholic faith.
They were married for over 10 years when their one and only daughter, Linda Kay Switter was born. They were both 30 years old at the time, and overjoyed with this precious baby girl. They adored her! The adoration only grew stronger as they were unable to have any more children.
For 12 plus years Gilbert continued to live a lifestyle driven by goals to attain wealth and enjoyment. The marriage suffered because of it and Lela clung tighter to her Christian Faith. Finally, Lela told him something must change. Angry, Gilbert walked out!
Time passed and Lela was heartbroken, but clinging to The Truth that she knew would sustain her. She and her daughter went to church as usual, but this day at church would be like non other. The pastor finished the sermon and gave the alter call. Lela and Linda saw Gilbert walk past them, where he had risen from a seat in the back of the church, and go forward and accept Jesus Christ into his life.
From that point on, Gilbert embodied the life of a Christian man. He began by putting God first. He led the deacons, and was the church treasurer. He served faithfully on many committees at church and tithed faithfully. How do I know that? I saw him fill out his church offering envelope every Saturday night I stayed with them. He took it to church every Sunday morning in his suit coat pocket!
He followed that first command with the second, as He loved his family and neighbors well.
He played with his grandchildren and took us to church. He took us on vacations every summer and sent us to church camp. He visited every Christmas with loads of presents and went to church every single week.
Gilbert Peter Switter led by example. A quiet, committed man of God who loved God first and loved his family well.
I never questioned my grandfather’s faith in Christ because he lived his life by the greatest commandment…
“Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than this.” Mark 12:30-31
Friends, let’s be honest here, loving God is not the hard part, loving others is! You may be the sweetest, kindest, loving person on this planet, but you are still human, and so am I!
People are not always easy to love, but our God commands us to love them anyway!
He does not say love them when they are nice. Or, love them when they love you back. He just says “LOVE THEM!”
How in the world do we do this! How is this “LIVING?”
We can only “Love our neighbor as ourself,” when we are fueled with a power greater than our own strength.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“God made us, invented us asa man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol,(you can tell he was British!:)), and it would not run properly anything else.Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn.”
WHEN GOD HIMSELF IS THE FUEL WE BURN, WE CAN LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AS OURSELVES!
I am blessed and thankful to have had a human example of loving others the way God intends them to be loved. But, with or without that example, I am unable to love others properly without the filling of God’s Holy Spirit!
My prayer for all of us through this series is that we would realize our INABILITY, and God’s great ABILITY!
“Greater is He who is in you, than He who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4b
When God lives in us we have all the ability we need to love God and love others!
Let’s Do it!
Speak Truth Love