But instead, I found the last letter my paternal grandfather wrote to me in December of 2001. He passed away in June of 2002. He died from complications after he had surgery to remove a brain tumor. The letter was in response to my request for information about our family. I was specifically interested in our Christian heritage - I believe I was writing a paper for a homeschool assignment.
"Mears Family Heritage for Susie:
You asked me to write something about the Mears family Christian heritage. So I'll go back to the beginning and tell my story. It's important to our family because my conversion was important to the Christian heritage of the Mears family.
For the first twenty-one years of my life I wasn't interested in spiritual things. I remember deciding that if God existed, it didn't make any practical difference. So I lived pretty much as if He didn't exist. When I was in college I decided that He did not in fact exist, that religion was a trick used by the ruling classes to keep the rebellious masses in line and submissive to authority. In other words, religious people were hypocrites, putting on an act they didn't really believe.
I was never satisfied with hypocrisy, that is, putting on a moral and religious front ot give the appearance that one was a proper person. I decided that if there was no God, there wasn't any point in pretending that there was one. My attitude was expressed in these words, 'Let's be honest about our unbelief and be consistent'.
As I think about it, that passion for consistency is probably the key to understanding me. Some people couldn't care less about being consistent. They could believe one thing and live another and it didn't matter. To me, it mattered. I started out trying to be a consistent unbeliever. I found out it wasn't possible. I made myself miserable trying. I thought it would be easy to be a doubter and a skeptic. I discovered it wasn't easy at all. In fact, it wasn't possible. I discovered such a profound and terrifying emptiness that I ran away from unbelief as one would run away from a four alarm fire. Unbelief was a nightmare from which I desperately wanted to awake.
That is literally true. One night I awoke with a terrifying dream. It was a dream within a dream. I was watching a terrible accident. A streetcar exploded in front of my eyes. (A streetcar runs on rails like a train, but it runs on city streets like a bus. When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, both streetcars and buses ran on the city streets). My dream was vivid, a recurring dream, a terrifying dream. I tried to awake, even dreamed that I was waking up so that I didn't' have to see it any more. It came to me a couple time when Iw as in my teen yers and then one final time when I was twenty-one. When I woke up the last time the fear remained and I couldn't escape from it.
The fear drove me to make changes in my life. And as my life began to change I began to make contact with God. Little by little He revealed himself to me and I began to learn how to love God and serve him. Jesus attracted me by his kindness and love and drove me away from evil by fear. I n time I learned how to live at peace with God, trusting in his mercy and walking in obedience to his will. He taught me to live according to the Golden Rule. It's called "Golden" because it's a perfect rule. It's simple. All you have to do is treat other people the way you would want to be treated. And it works in any situation.
So that's my story, Susie. There's a lot to it, but basically, it's just a matter of believe in God and learning how to obey Him. I learned it the hard way, I guess, and I'm not through learning. But God is a good and patient teacher.
The Lord bless you and keep you.