2 Corinthians 9:6 famously says “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” No one in my life has been a better example of sowing generously with her time than my Grandma Zieber. I would see her at church each week, at my ball games, at my school events, every birthday and on most holidays. We would often go camping with Grandma and Pop Pop, and we’d always spend two weeks together every summer at Rawlinsville Camp Meeting. Essentially, whenever something important was happening in my life, Grandma and Pop Pop were there. Even today they are always there, not only for me, but also for special events in the life of my children. Growing up I just assumed that everyone had grandparents like mine.
Then I went off to college.
Away from the comfort of the southern end of Lancaster County for the first time, I quickly learned just how blessed I really was. Most of my new college friends barely knew their grandparents, and a few had never met them. They were stunned at how close I was to mine. Perhaps this new understanding is what led to one of the most significant conversations of my life:
My junior year at Shippensburg University had just come to an end. I woke up the first morning I was home not knowing what to do with myself, because my summer job didn’t start until the next week. The rest of my family had left the house long before I roused myself out of bed. I started attacking the mountain of dirty laundry that I had brought home with me, but that chore quickly grew tiresome. Doing anything outside was not an option because it was not the nicest day weather-wise. So, I decided to grab some Chinese food at the local restaurant for lunch. Not wanting to eat alone, I invited myself over to my grandparents’ house. My plan was to stop in, wolf down some General Tso’s, chat for a few minutes and be on my way.
I gave Grandma Zieber a quick call to make sure they were around. Pop Pop was gone for the day, but Grandma and my great-grandmother (Granny Aukamp) were around and were happy to have me stop by. When I arrived we all sat down for lunch. Again, I figured this was a 15 minute visit.
Three hours later, I finally said my goodbyes. I couldn’t believe it! We talked about what was new in my life and what was new in theirs. We talked about what was happening in the lives of the other family members. We talked about my upcoming senior year and what I hoped to achieved. We talked about this cute brunette that I was dating, and I admitted to them that they were probably going to be seeing a lot of her in the future (I was right!).
We talked about “bigger” things as well: what God taught me the previous school year, how I thought I was going to serve Him after graduation, how God was working in their lives, my hopes and dreams for the future, their hopes and dreams for the future -“big” things. Things that you only talk about with people you are really close to. As we were talking, three generations sitting around the dining room table, I realized that this conversation would be one that I would always remember. I learned some things about my family that I never knew before, and I’m pretty sure they learned some new things about me as well!
While I was there, I repeatedly asked if there was something that they needed to do. Each time Grandma answered “No, nothing important.” Finally, just as I was getting ready to leave, Granny Aukamp slipped up and mentioned that Grandma Zieber wouldn’t be able to run an errand as she had planned. When I lamented the fact that I interfered with her plans, Grandma simply replied “Scott, you’re more important. Those chores will still be here tomorrow. You won’t.” Grandma had realized that my visit was an unexpected opportunity to sow some seeds into our relationship, and she wasn’t about to miss it.
As I left that day I had no way of knowing that Granny Aukamp’s health would soon start a rapid decline. She passed away less than a year later. If Grandma had politely said, “Sorry, Scott, but there are some things I have to get done today.” when I called I would have completely understood. Yet because she made time for me, I was privileged have one last meaningful visit with Granny. I have a lot of great childhood memories with my grandparents, but that afternoon remains one of my favorites.
Now, with a family of my own, Grandma’s words seem truer by the day. There will always be “chores” that need done. Sowing those relationship seeds in my children’s lives, however, needs to come first. When it comes to relationships, with our spouse, our kids, our grandkids, or whoever, you truly reap what you sow.