Beside his Dead Body


I ripped open the envelope, and sure enough, there was a gift card. “Who is Grandpa John?” I yelled to my husband from the other room.

“He’s my second step-dad’s father,” he said.

“Have I ever met him? Like, did he go to our wedding?”


“Well, he sent me a $10 gift card for my birthday.”

“It figures. He’s never sent me a $10 gift card.”

That’s how it started, my letter writing to this man. I began by writing:

“Dear Grandpa John,

I don’t know who you are or why you’re sending me money, but thank you, and keep it coming.”

I went on to write several pages, telling him about my life and what I was doing. I only had one baby at the time, and I told him I was sewing a tapestry for the blank walls in my living room. I told him how my son chased a squirrel up a tree. I just said whatever, rambling about my life.

Ever after, I received gift cards for every birthday, and for each of my children’s birthdays. Every time I tore open the envelopes, my husband would say, “It figures. He’s never sent me a $10 gift card.” My sweet husband was like a broken record.

My husband was shocked the first time he found a letter addressed to me, written by hand from his grandfather. Yes, an old gray-haired man with an oxygen tank was writing me long letters. My husband was bewildered by whatever enchantment I had cast on his grandfather. He asked me what I wrote in my letters, and I told him that I just rambled about nothing.

One day my husband’s parents decided to drive from Southern California to Washington to visit us. Grandpa John insisted on coming, even though he had to drag his oxygen tank with him. For some reason he wanted to meet me.

Days later when they were pulling into my driveway, I went out to hug them all. But Grandpa John did more than hug me. He gave me a kiss on the lips. (Many families do this, by the way; I just wasn’t expecting it.) I was so disgusted I nearly spit on the ground. I calmly walked into the house and into the nearest bathroom to wash my mouth with soap. I told my husband what his grandfather had done. I tried to calm down and pretend like everything was normal.

After a long visit, they all went back to California. We continued writing letters to each other. I needed his money. But it was more than that; I loved him like family. He got such a kick out of my letters. He made me feel valuable.

That’s why I was sad when I heard that he was in the hospital. I called him and talked to him on the phone, knowing this might be the last time I’d ever speak to him. After hanging up the phone, I asked my husband, “Do you think he’s saved?”

“No,” he said, “I think he believes in his own good works to save him.”

I felt a huge burden on my heart to share the gospel with him before he died. I knew that I had a soft spot in his heart, and that if he would hear it from anyone, he would hear it from me, because I had never preached to him. I had only loved him, and he knew it.

Days went by. I still didn’t write the letter. The weight in my soul was unbearable. I finally grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil, and I poured out my heart and the gospel, all intertwined. I wept as I wrote the letter, not knowing if he was already dead, and wondering if I had been too late. I ran to the mail box and put the little flag up.

The next day we got the phone call: he was dead. I wailed so hard that day. I knew that his soul was going to hell, and that it was my fault. How come I hadn’t shared the gospel in so many years? I felt so much spiritual pain, my eyes were raw and swollen.

A week later I got a phone call. It was my husband’s parents. They had found my opened letter next to his dead body.

I screamed with joy. He had read the gospel right before he died, and based on everything I know about God, I know that God would never have expedited that letter to him just to pour more condemnation on his head. Jesus never did that, but He spoke in riddles just so that the people going to hell wouldn’t be under greater condemnation because they had heard Him speak. (On Judgment Day, people are judged according to their works, so hell is different for each person. They scream according to what they did in this life, as finally seen correctly, through the eyes of God.)

God must have known that he needed that letter, and that the timing was perfect.

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17 Responses to “Beside his Dead Body”

  1. Tina says:

    Wow!What a miracle.

  2. Beth says:

    So glad that God got your letter to him in time. Now you may have the privilege of seeing him again someday, and maybe “you’ll” want to give him a big fat kiss when you do!

  3. Wow, that’s so wonderful!! God’s timing is always perfect, always!!! (By the way, my father’s family is Russian; they always kissed on the lips, too, and it was always gross to me as well, even as a child. 🙂 )

  4. Christie says:

    Ha, ha! You never told me about the smooch!

  5. Julie says:

    OH, that has to be one of the most beautiful stories I have ever, ever read!! What an amazing thing – it’s really a miracle! God’s timing is perfect and His Word does not return void!!

    What amazing love you poured into that gentlemen and how wonderful to hear the story full circle.

    God bless you – Julie

  6. Michelle says:

    So Glad to hear that thanks to God you were able to help someone accept Jesus!!

  7. robyn says:

    We do have an awesome God!

  8. Melissa says:

    What a neat relationship that God brought into both of your lives so that you were able to be the person to soften and open his heart for the love of Jesus!

  9. Mary says:

    Please explain that whole judgement day sentence in parenthesis….I’ve never heard that version. Otherwise…touching story.

    • Susan says:

      We are saved by grace through faith, but we will be rewarded according to our works. Unbelievers will be judged according to what they have done. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

      “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” Revelation 20:12

      Some suffer more than others in hell: “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” Matthew 10:15

  10. JoAnn Smith says:

    Great story Susan!

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