Family Lessons 41: The Ancestor & the Predecessor

I was at Holden Chapel on Easter Sunday to preach the gospel. Afterwards, I looked about their little graveyard, within which I considered two burials. One was of my predecessor, a former pastor of Martin Top (or Marton Top according to the memorial). Pastor John Dean died in 1857, well before we procured our own graveyard. He was only 36, but fulfilled well, I trust, the tasks to which the Lord had assigned him. Labouring at Martin Top would have been no glamorous call; I think it bespeaks his simple obedience to the divine will.

The other, unmarked grave is of my ancestor, Jonas Windle, who was buried there but five years previous. He had once attended the Horton-in Craven Congregational Chapel and would have been there when our chapel was founded. I fancy he attended the opening service, seeing it was but a few miles’ distance. Sadly, my 5x great-grandfather died in the Bolton-by-Bowland workhouse, having separated from his wife some years before. Was he a drunkard? A wife-beater? A gambler? God knows, but there his body lies, not far from godly Pastor Dean’s. Both men were called to heaven’s bar in that same, sixth decade of the nineteenth-century. I imagine that Rev. Dean heard the words:

"Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord."

But what would be said to Grandfather Windle? He was either told to depart from the Lord whom he had so clearly rejected, or, like the thief on the cross, had a timely pang of conscience and called on the God whom he had so very long ignored:

If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

One day, we shall know. Two men, two graves, but one God before whom each would give account. If you were to die today, what would you say to God? More importantly, what would He say to you?