I stood in the machine shed breathing in the scent of Grandpa. Grandpa’s been long gone for many a year now, and the fact is we own nothing but the memories of him. Strong, deep and meaningful the gift of memory remains as they surge each time the scent of machinery oil wafts in the air.

Immediately striped bibbed overhauls come to mind as well as glass jars filled with nails, screws, nuts, and bolts needed to repair things on the farm. The wooden workbench held hews only known because the oil had dripped upon them as deeply stained they became. Quiet took over each time one entered the machine shed … not unlike today.

As I glanced around taking pause, I noted how much like Grandpa the man I married was. At the time we dated, I only caught the scent of integrity which also flowed through the pores of Grandpa. Hard work and deep devotion to the land and what it produced was another value highly valued … not to mention the livestock of which he was deeply committed to. So similar these men were.

Grandpa quietly persevered through each storm in life … literally. I recall once in the midst of the snow flying … his cows needed tending to. There was nothing but blinding white between the barn and the little white house in which they lived. What did he do? He hooked a rope up to the house, securing it tightly, and made his way to the barn. Once there, he secured his lifeline to the barn and clung tightly to it on his journey home once the chores were done.

He knew the farm like the back of his hand, grandpa did, and knew his purpose, too. His purpose in life was to help feed the world…beginning with his family, then neighbors, then the townspeople, and on it went. He knew why he lived and for whom he lived as he made his way each Sunday to church … bringing his family with. 

Faithful and faith-filled grandpa was … like a well oiled machine. He paused humbly before his God in the field … taking care of that which he’d been entrusted.

Grandpa had many excuses to not do well in life. His mom died young when Grandpa was young. He had a crabby stepmom who didn’t care all that much for him. There could have been lots of excuses Grandpa could have used to not become the man he became. But God tended to him … making a way for Grandpa to be the man he needed to be so the generations could follow.

Like a well oiled machine we can be … taking time in the pause to stop and smell not the roses … but the oil. Although I must say … it was roses grandma loved to smell, but that story is for another day.

So blessed we are by the generations who have gone before us. Proverbs 22:28 encourages us. “Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.”  The boundaries are all in him, through him, and with him … so in that is our hope.  Amen.


Kathleen Kjolhaug is a columnist and can be reached at theologyinthetrenches.blogspot.com.

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