Sunday, December 17, 2006

Legacy - How Great Thou Art

I had the privelage of knowing and loving one of my abuelos, Jose Mora. He is pictured here with my beautiful grandmother, Mercedes. We affectionately called them Meme and Chu.

Chu served as a horse mounted military police for the Cuban government, pre-Castro (my mom or uncle will correct me if I am wrong). He passed away when I was about 13 years old, so I never had a chance to sit down for a "man-to-man" talk with him. I remember Chu as a quiet, serious man; until of course he thought of something funny, and then he would break out with a contagious laugh that I still remember to this day. He was a great man who lived a full life, and I look forward to seeing him again in eternity.

So what does Chu have to do with the title of my blog?

I remember the first time I began realizing the importance of the word "legacy". It was the day of Chu's funeral. Many other words flooded to my mind on that day; honor, grace, mercy, love, strength and power. I was 13 when Chu passed. It was on the day of his funeral that I met God face-to-face for the first time.

During the eulogy, the pastor was saying very nice things about my grandfather. Everyone says nice things when someone dies; it's what you're supposed to do. I vaguely paid attention, more interested in being able to sit down and get some sleep. It was late.

We got to a point in the service where the pastor said, "Now, we will sing Jose's favorite hymn, How Great Thou Art."

Favorite hymn? Chu had a favorite hymn? Okay. Maybe he's just saying that about Chu to make him sound spiritual. Whatever.

The lyrics to this hymn go like this:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

I remember listening intently to the lyrics, because I wanted to see what had inspired my grandfather so much.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

I was floored. I could not contain the tears. A woman I don't remember reached out to console me. I cried hysterically and ran to the bathroom.

I wasn't just crying for my grandfather. I was a 13 year old, blown away by the depth of my grandfather, and gripped by the message of that verse.

I cried hysterically for a good 15 minutes. I remember that I was in uncontrollable awe of God. I never felt that way before, or since.

All at once I was confronted with my mortality, my sin, my humanity. I was also in the presence of the living God my grandfather had loved so much.

Chu was no saint. He was a flawed man. But he loved God, and understood what I would later understand to be God's grace.

I thank God for my family, the church I grew up in, and all of the other things that influenced my walk with Christ. But not many people know the impact that Chu and a hymn had on shaping who I am, and Who's I am, today.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"


mora68 said...

First, let me say that this is one of my most favorite is just so beautiful.

Now, according to your tio, whom I spoke to last nite, Chu was never a mounted police officer...when my Dad explained to me what Chu was, my ADD kicked in. So, you will have to check with mi tia favorita or my dad on that one. However, it does not take away from how great Chu was...and let us not forget that picture of the delivery truck with all the bullet holes in it...the history of our family is incredible. And I loved reading your blog...

Marquito said...

At some point in his career, Chu rode horseback and was the equivalent of MP in Cuba. If I recall, I heard stories of Chu's horse and the stable he would keep it in (according to mom who went there as a child).

Thanks. I just heard the hymn that day on a CD and it always brings back that memory.

Natalie Holzapfel said...

I absolutely love this Tio! God is good all the time.