I’ve struggled and struggled to figure out how to write this post—for days. Not unlike how I struggled and struggled to find words to speak about my grandpa at his funeral on Wednesday. What can I really say? How do you find a few short sentences to sum up the emotions you feel with an 80-year life and person you were so bound to.
My grandpa passed away late on Friday the 15th, and looking through the last week, I could talk about so many horrible things. I could talk about the bitter night that he died. The angry feelings I had toward God that I couldn’t get there in time to see him before he died. I could talk about the sleepless nights of this week, that I know my whole family felt. I could talk about the images that I wish I could forget from the viewing at the funeral home on Tuesday. I could talk about the burden of the funeral slideshow that I was in charge of putting together this week. I could talk about the exhaustion and the grief in the eyes of my family members, and mostly my grandma. The sadness of the burial. There are also those many moments where it just hits, and the realization knocks the wind out of you when you’re not ready for it.
Up until Wednesday, I probably would have written a blog about all of that, but something changed my mind. The funeral started Wednesday afternoon, and the family lined up in another room to walk into the sanctuary during the opening hymn, a congregational hymn:
Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,
and great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son; but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done!
As we walked into the sanctuary full of saints singing these words, I felt weird about it—like this wasn’t quite right. This isn’t a funeral song. But as they kept singing, I suddenly felt my grandpa closer than I had the whole week, like he could have been standing right next to me singing the words with his booming vibrato, “and give him the glory, great things he hath done.” I’ve been wallowing in my misery for so many days, but did I ever think about the fact that maybe this death is the greatest work God has done in his life?
Grandpa never lived a day that wasn’t worshipful. Even in his sadness, even in the death of his family members, or his own sickness, it was clear that he lived for something much greater than earth’s sickness, diseases, and death. Can you imagine a faith so sincere that truly stifles the sting and victory of death? Satan won no part of his life; grandpa lived for ONE thing ONE person, and then kept his life full of things he loved–things that lasted–family. the church. music. sports.
I miss my grandpa so much. But I think he was just rewarded for his work here. He is more alive now than he has ever been, and he is free of pain, and he is free to sing, and is truly singing with the angels.
When I look back on this week the way that my grandpa would have if he was here, there was really no bitter part. Our family was all together, closer than we have ever been. Our time was rich with conversation, singing, laughter at times, games, good food, true fellowship, stories, memories, pictures, the final basketball game…he would have loved every moment.
I put the slideshow of grandpa to the song “More to This Life” by Steven Curtis Chapman, which anyone can watch here. I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia of Steven Curtis Chapman’s old music, or maybe the fact that he recently went through the death of his daughter, but his most recent album has been a great comfort to me, especially as he repeats the phrase, “sing hallelujah, it’s a brand new day,” and you hear the choir in the background. It’s so good to hear that song because Heaven feels a little bit closer.
Amen. We will sing with grandpa again. We can pray that Heaven comes a little bit closer and a little bit faster for all of us.