Stretching To The Finish

July 17, 2013 — 17 Comments

July 2013 571

During our vacation to the Midwest, we had an opportunity to visit my Grandma (I’ve written about her before – click here.)

It wasn’t a very long visit.  I think we were at the nursing home where she lives for a little more than two hours.  When we came into her room, she immediately knew who we were.  She mentioned my name and our kids names, and she had to ask for a little help with Leanne’s name (although it was clear that she knew who she was).

If you remember, Grandma is 93 years old.  Physically, she’s been struggling for many years thanks to the pain of arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and a broken arm.  Only in the last few years has she started to fail mentally.  Grandma was always the sharpest person in the family.  She could remember details better than anyone else in the family about people, places, and things from the past.  She skipped two grades in school.  Needless to say, this has been the hardest part of the aging process for her and for the rest of the family.  She simply can’t keep all the details of life straight in her head any longer.

All in all, it was a pretty good visit with Grandma.  While the staff at the nursing home indicated that she wasn’t having the greatest day, she seemed to be doing pretty well compared to my visit with Grandma a month ago.

There is the moment during our visit that I will always remember.

Grandma and Grandpa always had a strong faith.  I remember doing a morning devotion with them and praying for missionaries and people groups from around the world.  As we were getting ready to leave, Leanne suggested that we pray.  I prayed first and somewhat expected that to be it, but Grandma picked up right where I left off.  Her prayer was powerful.  Despite her physical and mental ailments, she clearly is in great shape spiritually.

Grandma’s prayer and our visit was a great reminder that God isn’t through with us.  While Grandma would prefer to be in heaven with Grandpa and God, she continues to demonstrate a growing faith.  It’s easy to think that we’ve arrived – that we’ve grown as much as we possibly can physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Grandma reminded me that spiritual growth is a journey that continues throughout our lives.

I don’t have any idea how long I will live.  I could live until 50, until 75, or even until 100.  I want to be remembered as someone who continues to STRETCH and grow.  I want to grow physically (not in size), and I want to continue to grow mentally.  But most of all I want to STRETCH and grow spiritually.

May our journeys through life be marked by spiritual STRETCHING!  May our faith be a testament to those around us and to those who come behind us.  Thank you, Grandma, for your STRETCHING example!

Who in your life has reminded you to keep on STRETCHING?  Who in your life has faith that moves mountains?

Jon Stolpe


Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • Steve Y

    My wife. Last October, at age 46, she was diagnosed with early stages Parkinson’s. The percentage that are diagnosed that are under 50 is about 6%. She has been a testament of faith and determination. She has shown me that God is still in control and things can always be much worse. In actuality her symptoms are so mild that most people would not know it. The kicker with the disease is that we don’t know what tomorrow brings, I guess just like life. God is good and will guide us. We still just need to feel His pleasure in all we do and strive to live Godly lives.

    • Jon Stolpe

      Wow, that does seem like an early diagnosis. May God give you His peace and strength as you continue through this part of life.

      I think if we really understood what it meant to go through “sickness and health” when we made those marriage vows we might be too terrified to proceed. And yet God gives us just what we need to make it through the joys and struggles of life – especially when we choose to keep Him first in our lives.

      • Steve Y

        I never thought of those vows. As she keeps saying though is if this is the worst thing to happen to us then it is a great life.

        • Jon Stolpe


  • Larry Carter

    We have an 88 year old man in our church who spends about 5 hours in the Bible each day. He is something else.

    • Jon Stolpe

      Imagine how much we could learn if we spent a quarter of that time for the rest of our lives. I want to hide God’s Word in my heart – not to be hidden, but to be closer to God and to know Him better.

  • Leah Adams

    What a wonderful post and I LOVE the family picture. To be sure you will treasure the picture and the visit for years! I have several friends who have a deep and abiding faith. I have watched them go through incredible hardships over the years and they have persevered beautifully. I want my faith to be a stretching, persevering faith!

    • Jon Stolpe

      Thanks, Leah. And I still owe you my “Faith Stories” post for your blog. I hope you’ll run the series a bit longer.

      • Leah Adams

        Please do send it. I would love to share it!!

  • David Paul Stolpe

    Thanks Jon for the thoughts one Grandma, one of the smallest physically and most Giant people God has given us.

    • Jon Stolpe

      Very true.

  • David

    The wisdom of those who have reached 8 or 9 decades, or even more, can be a treasure trove of blessing for those of us fortunate enough to know them and wise enough to tap into and listen. Grandma sounds like a true gem!

    • Jon Stolpe

      Yes, she is. I think it’s crazy and sad how we “younger” people rush around with the busyness of our activities while we miss out on the wealth of wisdom that lies in the experiences of the generations who have gone before us.

  • Sharon Gramling

    Such a moving, beautiful post, Jon; it shows us also that we are not our bodies. God bless you, dear!

    • Jon Stolpe

      Thanks, Sharon.

  • TCAvey

    My dad always had great faith. When life gets hard, I remember him and I keep going. He would never want me to quit and neither does God. God is for us…who can be against us?

    • Jon Stolpe

      Great thoughts, TC!