Death is a sad subject.
And death is a joyous occasion.
Those statements seem, at first, to be contradictory. They’re not. They are both equally true for those who have made plans for such an occasion.
This week our family has had the sad and joyous privilege of saying our earthly goodbyes to Grandma Lois, or Memaw as she is often called. We’re sad that she won’t be there to hug and to cut up with. She won’t be there to offer profoundly wise counsel as she has so often to so many. She won’t be there to pray for us as we know she has faithfully done all of our lives.
But we rejoice that the frustration and suffering she endured is over.
Grandma Lois is my wife’s grandmother. Our family has been quite unusually blessed in that my kids have really known 7 of their 8 great-grandparents. We recognize the incredible rarity of such a blessing these days. And now they have 4 remaining. How rich a heritage we have been given.
Grandma Lois had somewhere near 80 direct descendants in her lifetime. And her family was indeed her greatest earthly joy. But do you know what her greatest longing has always been? It’s exactly what our brother John the Apostle testified in his Third Epistle:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4
As some of our family were able to go and say goodbye to Grandma last weekend, I heard her say a couple of times, “I’ll be waiting for you!” It was a promise…and a challenge. She was challenging us to make sure we were prepared for that day when it’s our turn to leave this corrupted earth behind.
Our family will gather in a few days to celebrate this amazing life of love and faithfulness that was our dear Grandma. Sadly, Tori and I will be unable to be there as we will be visiting our world-changers in Honduras. And Grandma, if she were at all mindful of things here, would tell us it’s ok and to go love on those kids who are doing just that – walking in the truth by serving the Kingdom of God in a foreign land.
But, as they gather to remember this amazing lady, there be a beautiful mixture of sadness and joy. There will be tears of sadness as the truly significant loss to our temporal lives – the tears at what we know will be a long separation. But there will be tears of joy as we think of the glorious moment that she heard those amazing words that we know she surely heard from her Master, “Well done, Lois. Well done.”
And we will all remember how we may best honor her – by following her example so that she can hear him say it to us…