I grew up in the same town as my grandparents. So, I got to see them alot while I was growing up. My Grandpa and Grandma Burkman went to the same church I went to so I saw them Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and a weekend afternoon as well. My Grandpa Burkman was such a quiet man. My memories of him, when I was a small child, are mainly of sitting with him in his recliner eating peanuts that he would crack open for me. Which helped me to earn his nickname for me, “Peanut”. One of the other memories I have is him being in his shop. He was a machinist. He always had a project going. Sometimes I would navigate through all the projects (looked like junk) he had, or as he called it “Potential” to the back left hand corner of the big room in his shop to watch him weld. He’d give me a welding mask and I would stand there and watch the sparks fly.
Yesterday my parents posted a picture of him and my Grandma when they were very young on Facebook. My daughter commented to me how amazed she was that he looked soooo young. My memories are somewhere around the 60 + year old Grandpa. Hers’s are more the 90 + (he lived until he was a few days shy of 101).
After my Grandma died, is when I really got to know my Grandpa better. When I would bring my family home to visit, he would tell us stories of him racing Model T’s through the downtown area of the small Kansas town he lived in, and how they would pop wheelies with them hoping to impress the girls, a feat I didn’t know was possible with Model T. But he took the time to explain exactly how he did it. He also talked about racing boats on a Kansas lake, another thing I had a hard time picturing my quiet,gentle Grandpa doing. Then him working a promotional for the car dealership he worked for wearing what appeared to only be a barrel as he walked around outside the dealership. I was blown away with each visit at how much I really didn’t know about the man I had seen so much through the years I was growing up, and why my Grandma, who always seemed to be in for an adventure (camping, fishing, playing in the river, traveling, etc) would fall in love with such a seemingly quiet and calm man.
I’ve been reflecting on a verse in the Bible this week. Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ, yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” The apostle Paul had a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus, was a missionary to all kinds of towns, wrote several of the New Testament Books of the Bible. It struck me that the one thing he said he wanted was to “Know Christ”.
There have been times in my life that I thought I had God all figured out. I figured I knew how High I needed to jump to get His approval (a jump higher than I could ever make). I was pretty sure I knew the extent of the work I would have to do to be what I was supposed to be to make Him happy. And much like the 40 + year old Janet found out, the 5-year-old Janet didn’t really know her Grandpa, I have discovered I really didn’t even have a clue on who God really is or what He is like either. Which is why I find the words in John 14 very comforting. Jesus is talking to His disciples about knowing the Father. Verses 8-9 “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us. “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…”
During the Christmas season, we often hear the name “Emmanuel” spoken. We talk about Jesus being “God with Us”. And then we reflect on how a God, that the Jewish religious leaders, thought they had figured out as being “rule based”, “unapproachable”, “distant” had all of a sudden said, “I will show you who I am. When you see this baby, born into a desperate world, grows to be a man who is kind, compassionate, good, and full of love, live His life as an exact representation of who I Am, you will see me.” The Jesus of the Christmas manger, the miracle worker, the forgiver of sins, the sacrifice on the Cross, and the resurrected King, through His Grace, is our way to “Know God” and “Knowing God” is exactly what we need. It is what God desires for us. He went out of His way to “show us the way” to Him. When we reach out and tell Him like Paul did, “I want to know you God”. He is there wanting to show us who He really is. Because the Jesus of Christmas and the Cross Loves us more than we could ever comprehend. It will take a lifetime and beyond to know Him more and the fulness of His love.