Only recently, in the last year or so, have I been able to “properly” grieve Granddaddy’s death. When he died, I absolutely was sad. His earthly body finally was at rest with Jesus. There was great relief in his death. So in his death, I rejoiced. I had a hard time crying. And I prayed so hard that the Lord would let me cry for Granddaddy, but I couldn’t. Last spring, I felt a stirring in my heart to teach a women’s bible study again at FBCMI. This was all part of a very long journey of healing in my heart to get back to teaching. As we searched and studied what to teach and how to get it all organized, I realized that the only way for women to understand God’s word is to know His word. The study we landed on takes you through the entire council of scripture over the course of 30-ish weeks and 2 books. During the first 3 chapters, I felt my heart beginning to heal. I felt the Lord release me into grief as my understanding of death was forever changed.
I learned that death is an act of Mercy from God
In Genesis chapter 3 we see the mercy of God being described as the fact that God did not immediately kill Adam and Eve when they sinned. They faced inevitable death and eternal separation from God but were not given what they deserved. Instead, He allows them to live, but never the same. Their fellowship with God is broken and their identities, in crisis. They were kicked out of the garden with the promise that they would one day die. I had never thought of death as an act of grace, but death is actually the promise FROM God that they would be with him forever instead of eternally separated. Because if we die separated from God, without the hope of Jesus, without a substitution for our sin, we will spend eternity separated from Him.
When Granddaddy died it was a sweet sort of relief. Not all death is sweet, as I’m no stranger to death here as a pastor’s wife. But Granddaddy’s was so precious. His mind had failed him as Alzheimer’s had slowly taken him from us. Then his body failed him. The natural progression of our earthly bodies suffering eventually took him from life… to death… and then, what a sweet, sweet relief it was to know that God, in his justice, had paved a way for Granddaddy to know him. That in his mercy and kindness He gave us that rugged cross where His one and only son had suffered and died so that we would not have to live eternity apart from God. And in his kindness, he allowed death as an act of grace. Because when Granddaddy died, he stepped from life… to death.. to life eternal. Not because he was a good man. Not because he went to church or gave back to the community. Not even because he loved his family well. But because he believed that the Word of a God- the Bible- is our highest authority. He believed that all he had to do was trust that by faith alone, through grace alone and in Christ alone, his eternity was sealed and secure.
Through learning and teaching on the fact that God’s mercy allows death so that we can LIVE with Him forever, the bottled up tears and emotions in my soul all were finally able to overflow and I cried. Thank you Jesus for the tears! And in cleaning out closets and drawers I found a stack of precious letters he had written us after we got married.. after Chris became a pastor... after we had Henning. The letter that I love the most is one he wrote in March of 2009. He thanked us for a picture of he and Henning, his first great-grandbaby- we had given him for his birthday. He wrote that we should have 3 more children- maybe 2 girls and one more boy 😊 4 is a good number he said... and he promised to help take care of them when we came to Winnsboro to visit. How I wish he could have a watermelon seed spitting contest at “the river” with all 4 of our little ones. Or scoop them up in his lap and shake their little chins until their teeth chatter. What a legacy you left behind, Granddaddy. I’m thankful for your life and celebrate you today and always. Until we meet again...
“What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?“ Micah 6: 8