Life Well Lived: Grandpa Mac’s Best Day

Written by John Kirkwood on December 8, 2013

*Author’s Note: As of this morning, 12/6/2013, Grandpa “Mac” went home to be with the Lord.

Mac is one of the thousands from that “greatest generation” that we are losing every day. A veteran of World War II who fought and defeated National Socialism, Imperialism and Fascism overseas then came back home and plunged into the privilege of American Capitalism. He built his own business from the ground up and eventually would build some of North America’s most notable malls. His story is not unique, (that’s why we call it the “greatest generation”), but it is distinctive.

Mac married his best friend and his love affair with Jeanne would inspire all those around them with the testimony in just how a man should love his woman and how mightily God will work in and through a couple that seek to honor Him in all that they do. Mac has sired children and grandchildren and has been a “surrogate” father to many who never knew the love or affection of a true father.

A hard-nosed, no nonsense, old-school, “get the job done at all costs” boss who once, as legend has it, chained and locked every exit to a mall that was behind construction schedule until his crews caught up with his timetable. Grandpa Mac was so “persuasive” even the unions would bow to his eminence!

Mac is one of the few people that you meet in life whose personality is so big that he casts his own orbit. No one who has come into contact with him, would ever, could ever forget Gordon “Mac” McLennan.

He’s had many achievements in life and his story reads like a Frank Capra movie but he’s not a famous man outside his own intimate circle so I won’t bore you with intricacies of a stranger’s life other than to say that most of us at some time have known a man that steals the show, that captivates the room, that commands our attention with an almost mythical magnetism.

I never knew any of my own grandparents, they were all dead before I had the pleasure of meeting them, but I am supremely grateful to have known my wife’s grandfather and to have shared in the blessing that Mac has been to my family. The joy of seeing my own children witness his magnanimity, embrace his big personality and interact with the man has made up for the paucity of my own experience.

As moving as it is to see the relationships that Mac has cultivated with those dear to him, much more so is it to see him interact with strangers. Mac never sits down at a restaurant table without engaging those around him and I’ve never broken bread with the man when he hasn’t witnessed to the waitress. By witness I mean testify on behalf of Jesus Christ, what some would call proselytizing.

Evangelization is a dying art. In an age where most professing Christians will sit back and hold the door as friend or neighbor slips into a Christ-less grave, Mac would risk upsetting the comfort zone of others to brag about Jesus Christ.

When it comes to evangelizing, no one has said it better than the atheist Penn Jillette, “How much do you have to hate someone not to proselytize?” (See here: Penn’s Gift of a Bible)

Well Mac taught me and many around him that it’s always more important to concern yourself with another’s eternal destiny than their temporary “comfort.” Ignorance is only bliss until time runs out; just ask the cow following the trail of corn to the butcher’s shed.

And when it came to bragging about our Lord, Mac was an artist. It came easy for him. Bragging about something you love usually does.

Even the most ardent atheist, though he may not be persuaded, would be convinced of the genuine nature of Mac’s appeal and oftentimes, would be charmed by his authentic, genuine care. It was a labor of love for Mac. Love for his savior and concern for the lost.

Today, Mac is lying in a hospice facility in North Carolina and doctors have told us that time is short. And like many men who find it hard to speak these things to one another, I feel compelled to tell him now just how much he’s touched us all and will continue to move us even when he goes home to the Lord.

Mac, you’ve accomplished more than some men could do in seven lifetimes. You’ve left many great days behind you, from the battlefields of the Great War to the bench in some restaurant where you led a child through the darkness and into the light, but your greatest day is before you. It’s a day that will make all these other days pale in significance. Mac, I know you know this but for the benefit of those who are reading it, your best day will be the day that you die.

The Apostle Paul refers to death as “departing” and it’s a word from the Greek that means “to strike a tent” or “to untether” a ship. Soldiers would strike a tent when they break camp to set upon another mission and a new path and sailors would untether the great sailing ships as they were about to set sail.

This is the journey before you now. You will pass from this life and close a door behind you, but like the child that has left its mother’s womb; you won’t be occupied with yesterday because the “todays” of your tomorrow will be so captivating.

You’re truly going home, Mac, and for the believer that is our best day. The baby may be equipped for life in the womb but it was designed for life on planet earth as the believer is equipped for time but designed for eternity.

Shortly you will see your Creator. He will know you. He has known you more intimately than us all. There will be tears but no sorrow and his pierced hand will wipe them from your cheek. You will hear his voice. The voice that will command battalions of angels will say your name. The voice who asked his Father to forgive you will say, “Welcome, my good and faithful servant.” That is your best day. That will be your most memorable moment.

You will no longer occupy yourself with the dimensions of this mortal coil any more than an adult ponders his time in the womb or longs for the placenta that temporarily sustained him. Apart from being reminded of it, this world will but seem as a dream.

But before you step through that door and realize for the first time, beyond theory’s take, that “to die is gain,” I want to say on behalf of all who have known you or know someone like you, “Thank you, Grandpa Mac, and I thank my God upon your every remembrance! Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

From a grateful son.

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John Kirkwood
John Kirkwood is a son of Issachar. He is a Zionist, gun-toting, cigar-smoking, incandescent light bulb-using, 3.2 gallon flushing, fur-wearing, Chinese (MSG) eating, bow-hunting, SUV driving, unhyphenated American man who loves his wife, isn't ashamed of his country and does not apologize for his Christianity. He Pastors Grace Gospel Fellowship Bensenville, where "we the people" seek to honor "In God we Trust." He hosts the Christian wake up call IN THE ARENA every Sunday at noon on AM 1160 and he co-hosts UnCommon Sense, the Christian Worldview with a double shot of espresso on He is the proud homeschooling dad of Konnor, Karter and Payton and the "blessed from heaven above" husband of the Righteous and Rowdy Wendymae.