My grandfather, Evert Leon Marrs, peacefully passed away last Thursday. Though our family had anticipated this news for quite some time, it was still hard to receive the phone call.
As a cheerful man of 92 years, grandpa Leon always had amazing stories to share. He was an honorable WW2 soldier, a father of four, and he worked so hard, living out his days as a simple, small-town man.
My favorite story was hearing about how grandpa first met the Lord; seeing how sharing his faith was a continuous thread in grandpa’s demeanor, I always thought he believed in Jesus since he was little. During my childhood, I felt the nearness of the Holy Spirit when grandpa was around, and so naturally, I pictured him as a young boy, sharing the good news with neighbors and friends, just like he did with everyone during my lifetime.
But grandpa’s story was much different than I had imagined. A few years ago, I sat with him in his living room, piled with books and magazines from times past. I listened attentively as grandpa took me back to the day he first encountered his Savior. It was June 29th, 1960. He was 36, and as a hard-working husband and dad of four little ones, he struggled to provide for his family. Life was hard.
June 29th, 1960. That day, Leon Marrs gave his life to Jesus. There was no crisis going on in his life, or miraculous conversion story; He was simply a suffering, broken man who realized that he wasn’t in control, and he couldn’t go it alone. Like all who come to faith, he wrestled with life’s purpose and his own identity, and somewhere in the midst of it all, the grace of God peeked into grandpa’s seeking soul.
And he simply surrendered.
Grandpa’s funeral is today, and sadly, I can’t sit in the pews to hear that same good news he always wanted to share. As his pastor stands in the presence of grandpa’s body and hundreds in attendance, he’ll surely tell of the saving grace of Jesus. That’s how grandpa would’ve wanted it.
Today, I celebrate the life of my grandpa Leon, hundreds of miles away from his burial site, with his 5-week old great-grandson sleeping in my arms. Although I can’t hug others who also loved grandpa so dearly, I know it’s God’s will that I stay at home, honoring his life as I take care of our little boy. I pray in private, and celebrate with confidence and peace, knowing that God’s listening ear isn’t based on geographical location. God is here with me, just as He is with those in attendance at Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
As a new mama, my heart has grown tender toward our family legacy. While being handed the responsibility of raising our son to experience the love of Christ, I reflect on grandpa’s life, and how his faith steered the course of our family’s future. God tells us that He shows steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 20:6). I believe that this very love has been poured over our family through grandpa’s simple act of surrender in the summer of 1960. And though my grandpa didn’t have the opportunity to meet my son on this side of heaven, I smile knowing that their lives overlapped for a sliver of time.
Evert Leon Marrs, born in the greatest generation, reborn into the family God, and now at home with His Heavenly Father. Through us, his legacy will carry on.
KACIE FEENEY is the founder of Persimmon Prints and lives in the Chicago area with her husband Patrick, and their son, Thomas. They have two malt-poo pups, Lucy & Rosey. You can connect with her & Persimmon on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.