“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).
“Time flies,” so they say. It seems like yesterday when I wrote about my birthday reflections for 2013. I would like to thank God for granting me another year in my pilgrimage in this world. The just ending year has been great as God has once again proven himself that he remains faithful even though, sadly, I don’t.
As I thought about my birthday this year, the name of my late grandpa, Gannet Damson Makhalira, kept surfacing in my mind. He died a day after my birthday, almost two decades ago and he is on the list of people that the Lord has greatly used to shape my life. Two things he impressed on my mind and heart still linger even today: Love Christ and work hard. I mean, he did not just tell me but demonstrated it as well.
I recall while still very young, he bought me my first ever booklet, The Westminster Shorter Catechism. He read it out to me and encouraged me to memorize the questions and answers. “What’s the Chief end of Man?” He would ask expecting an answer.
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” I would respond.
“Excellent! Intelligent boy,” he would encourage me. Then he would turn to the Bible to show me the passages in which this truth is contained. He was a man of the Word.
But he was not only a man of the Word but also a “man of work.” His day began early in the morning on Mondays through Saturdays. After getting out of bed, he went to inspect the workers on his farm, Tonse Farm. No, he didn’t only inspect them but he would join them himself and work until around 7am. Then he would come home to have his breakfast with me during the school holidays. Thereafter, he took me to the farm to “work” alongside him.
“Nganga (grandson) this is how we do it,” he would demonstrate how to plant cassava stems.
“With what you are teaching your grandson, he will definitely be a great man” his workers often told him.
He just smiled and never commented. Grandpa often told me as he noticed his health failing him that he would love to see me taking over his farm when the Lord would call him home. I agreed but I was too young to understanding what I was committing myself into and it never materialized. Besides, the Lord had a different plan hence now I am not a farmer on Tonse Farm but a worker in Christ’s vineyard by His grace alone. Some similarities though.
One would think my grandpa had little time or room for other things in life. But not so with him. At least twice, a week he went to attend church meetings and prayers. He was an elder and session clerk of his local Presbyterian congregation. He loved God. I can’t really recall the actual college, but he was enrolled in a Bible correspondence course with an international Bible college. Every evening, he would pray with me before retiring to bed. What a godly man that God put in the early days of my life on this earth.
Oh, this might be digression but he also showed me how to shoot his hunting gun when I was twelve years young. He also indicated that when the Lord would call him home, I should own the gun. But again, I was too young to legally own it so this too never worked out. “The old soldier” as some called him, grandpa fought in World War II under the King’s African Rifles (KAR) now called Malawi Defence Force. After the war, he retired from the army and trained as an agriculturalist.
Sadly, as I grew up, I departed from the godly path grandpa had shown me into Rastafarianism. As he entered into glory in 1996, he left a disappointed man at what I had turned out to be. However, God had heard and listened to all those prayers he made on my behalf. Four years after his death, the Lord reached out to this lost child and by grace saved him. I know that as grandpa looked down at what happened that day on December 24, 2000, joy and amazement at God’s gracious work was written all over his face. Oh what amazing grace, the lost child was now found. Today, as I celebrate my birthday, I thank Christ for such a great grandpa. I rejoice at the thought that one day we will reunite and celebrate more than I do on a birthday like this one.