One month before his 98th birthday, our dad joined the soul winners of his generation around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. As family, we were definitely aware of his passionate love for souls.
Christian families will be familiar with the pattern of home life revolving around serving the Lord. The excitement that dad was coming home was often followed all too quickly by another lengthy absence. The world’s wisdom would label it a dysfunctional family and lifestyle; this would ultimately cause a father long periods of chronic illness. But any dismay over this must, and did, evaporate as maturity brought a clearer understanding of the value of a single soul won for Christ.
As a product of his time, dad had expertise in many areas. He brought characteristic energy and intensity to a wide variety of fields so that he was as comfortable shingling the roof of a building as he was repairing the plumbing in its basement. But as family, we were aware that the solemn responsibility of standing before an audience was never in his “comfort zone.”
Whatever degree of comfort was his, was most often found among the smaller assemblies of the Lord’s people in Ontario and the Maritimes, especially PEI. His genuine and abiding concern for “contacts” and then his follow-up of those who did respond to the gospel was perhaps the hallmark of his service.
As his circle of activity narrowed, his heart and conversation centered on memories of times, locations, and individuals when the Lord’s hand was seen in blessing. Always aware that so many of his fellow-laborers had gone “home,” he often expressed his longing to be with the Lord. As family, we frequently came away from those conversations sobered as to what, in future years, we might have to remember and share with our families and friends; even more importantly what there would be for review at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
So to be known as one of Arnold Gratton’s family members is an honor that has little to do with human relationships and nothing to do with his earthly activities or achievements, but everything to do with fellow-believers that we meet now and the many more that we anticipate meeting in heaven who call our dad their “father in the faith.”