Death has visited my family often in October. Three of my four grandparents, a beloved aunt, a cherished uncle – all six passed away during the tenth month of different years.
This past fall found us bereaved once again, as my son-in-law’s grandfather completed his earthly sojourn in mid-October. His memorial service was a celebration of a life well-lived, a race faithfully run, a servant safely Home. As family members shared memories of their grandfather, it was clear he made a lasting and positive impact on their lives.
Though their memories won’t be as clear or numerous, “Papa” touched the lives of the next generation as well. My grandson has comforted himself and others with the truth: “He’s not sick anymore. He’s in heaven!” “In heaven, guess what? You can’t die again! Papa is there waiting for us!” and, possibly my favorite, “Papa doesn’t have to pray anymore. He can just walk right up and talk to Jesus!”
Oh the beauty and simplicity of child-like faith, the kind of faith Jesus commended, the kind we’re told to pass on to our offspring. It’s apparent that “Papa” followed that mandate, modeling a godly walk for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Indeed, it is the greatest legacy any of us can bestow, the greatest joy to know our children are walking in the truth.
Nonetheless, we grieve our loss when a loved one is called Home. Though we’re assured the separation is temporary, their departure leaves a silence, an empty spot, that only their voice, their presence can fill. Someone asked me recently if I would wish my husband, Ray, back. I hesitated. I know the spiritually-correct answer. How could I be so selfish as to ask him to return from Paradise? Yet, I think back over all we’ve experienced and endured without him over the past 20 years and, in my frail humanity, I wish, oh so much, that he’d been here – to watch his daughters grow into amazing young women, to play with his grandchildren, to tend our garden with me.
The One who records our tears on his scroll understands. Moments before he called Lazarus from the tomb, even knowing his Father would hear his plea to raise his friend, Jesus wept. Being full of compassion, he shared Mary and Martha’s sorrow and he shares ours.
But unlike our human friends who come alongside us with sincere condolences and ministrations in our times of need, Jesus can also meet our deepest need, the need to be reconciled to God. Our Savior took our sins upon himself and paid the penalty we deserved so we can joyfully proclaim as Rev. Todd Allen did at Ray’s funeral, “Death is not the end, beloved. For the believer it is the most glorious beginning!”
I recently read a thought-provoking statement: “We are all under sentence of death; we are all terminal cases.” Sometimes death comes quickly, unexpectedly, as with Ray’s passing. At other times it’s preceded by a long, arduous illness. Regardless of its manner, it is a certainty. The author went on to say, “For the believer, the time of death becomes far less daunting a factor when seen in the light of eternity. Although death remains a formidable opponent, it is, from another perspective, the portal through which we pass to consummated life. We pass through death, and death dies. And the more a Christian lives in the consciousness of God’s presence here, the easier it is to anticipate the unqualified delight that will be experienced in God’s presence there.” A most glorious beginning indeed!
Lord, we are like a mist. Please teach us to number our days aright, knowing You wrote them all in your book before even one came to be. Help us to fix our eyes on things above and to store up an imperishable treasure. And may we leave a legacy of love and faith like the steadfast witnesses who have gone before us.
 D.A. Carson, “Be Still, My Soul, Embracing God’s Purpose & Provision in Suffering”, Wheaton, IL; Nancy Guthrie/Crossway, 2010; p 117.
 D.A. Carson, Ibid
About the Author:
Patsy often refers to herself as “Gardening Grammie,” a title that encompasses two of her favorite pastimes. Widowed at age 38, she was blessed to be gainfully employed all the years she spent raising two daughters on her own. When her job was eliminated 6 years ago, she returned to school to study horticulture, a passion born of caring for the garden her husband left as part of his legacy. She is Grammie to three garden helpers. Patsy started her blog, Back 2 the Garden , to tell others of God’s faithfulness. She is a member of Grace Covenant PCA in Dallas, GA.