What are some of your favorite memories of your grandfather? A lot of different things come to mind when I think of my Grandpa Wray. Since my family only lived a block away, I saw my grandparents just about every day when I was little. I remember summer nights on Grandpa’s porch, watching fireflies and staring at the stars, tons of watermelon, mangoes and peaches, ginger ale floats, and Grandpa’s stories. Grandpa Wray’s house was also the gathering place for many happy holiday meals, creating some of my most treasured childhood memories.
When I was only three, I remember how he and my Grandma Margie took me on my first long trip from Ohio to Florida. It was the first time I ever laid eyes on the ocean, and apparently in my mind, I had imagined it would look something like a large pool since they told me I could go swimming in it. Grandpa always got a kick out of telling people what I said when we drove up to the beach and the waves came into view: “They filled it up!”
During my “growing up” years, while we still lived a block away, my whole family would go to Grandpa’s house and gather together in the living room to watch the Billy Graham specials whenever they aired as well as epic Bible movies such as “The Ten Commandments”, “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe”. Even though I was just a little girl and may not have understood everything, the excitement in the room was palpable. The adults talked about the Bible. They talked about God. And I listened.
Eventually, my grandparents moved to Florida and I saw them less frequently. One visit with them in 1967 when I was a teenager stands out as an especially spiritually nurturing time with Grandpa Wray. Wray McCoy loved to preach. His father was an ordained Baptist minister, but Grandpa Wray was a lay minister. He preached many times for the small Church of Christ in Ocala where he and Grandma Margie were members, and I was privileged to hear him during my stay. Many evenings after dinner he liked to share one-on-one with me the knowledge he’d gained over years of Bible study. I may have been a teen of the 1960s with a youthful eye for the things of the world, but I firmly believe it was Grandpa’s spiritual wisdom that always drew me back to solid ground. It was also during this visit that they took me to my first ever North American Christian Convention in Tampa. And what pearl of wisdom from this event did I take home with me? I heard one of the speakers say that on the day the Lord Jesus gathers His church up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), that’s something you do not want to be at home watching on your television!
After all these years, there are a few things Grandpa Wray shared during our studies that stick out in my mind. He liked to compare the Old Testament to the New Testament and explained how the Old Testament was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. (Galatians 3:24) He talked a lot about what it meant for the Jews to be God’s chosen people. He explained the significance of Israel becoming a nation and the parable of the fig tree. He always said that Israel is God’s timepiece, and if you want to know what’s going on in the world, keep your eyes on Israel. These talks kindled a flame in me that would one day lead to my desire to study and learn as much as I could from God’s Word. And I will continue to do just that until the day I die or the Lord returns, whichever comes first. I can still see Grandpa’s face when we talked about the Second Coming of Christ and he said, “There’s going to be a lot of surprised people on that day.”
Someday I’ll see my grandparents again and I’ll give them both a big hug. And I will tell Grandpa Wray that I treasured all these things in my heart.