Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hope That Doesn't Disappoint

I woke up the other morning into the ordinary.

Mental to-do lists rushed at me before I even got out of bed.

Pull the chicken out of the freezer, return phone calls, buy Mother’s Day cards….

I was wondering if I could put the laundry off another day, trying to remember what we were going to focus on in math, and suddenly peeved as I realized the drapes I had hung in my room the day before were too short.

The day was not an ordinary one, however. In a few minutes I would learn of a death in the family. We had lost a grandmother.

She had loved my husband when he was in diapers. He grew up making memories at her house and eating her infamous graham cracker torte.

She taught him all the good card games and what it meant to live a life that honors Christ.

I met her much later, when she was a white-haired widow being wooed by an old high school sweetheart who never forgot her and managed to track her down after so many decades.

They married after us, but soon passed us up in anniversary celebrations. Understanding that they wouldn’t have many years together, they decided to celebrate the months instead.

When our first baby was being born this grandma waited at the hospital (a long time let me just tell you) to hold her first great grandchild.

“We decided not to have kids,” her husband later confided to me with a straight face, “because Medicare won’t pay for it.”

She always laughed gently when he teased her.

And one morning this week, about the time I was waking up into the ordinary, she was waking up into the extraordinary.

As she was dying, the words of Isaiah 43:5 were read over her:

"Do not be afraid for I am with you," says the Lord.

Minutes later she closed her eyes forever to the ordinary and opened them to behold the smile of the One she had loved for more than nine decades.

The One who has loved her since before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).

I don't say that she is in heaven simply because she was a good person known for a life of honesty and kindness. She put her faith in Jesus Christ, fully understanding that there is "no other name by which we are saved." (Acts 4:12)

And I don't imagine that she is in heaven just because it's a nice, comforting thing to say when somebody dies, something to take the edge off of the painful finality of it all.

I was so aware that morning that even as I was rearranging my to-do list for the day, she was tasting the exquisite pleasures of heaven.

I think mostly we lack the imagination to realize how wonderful heaven is. Either we secretly suspect that it will be boring, or we think perhaps it is impolite to think too much about heavenly rewards.

But neither of those views shows much understanding of our Creator.

Even through the sadness of that morning, I truly felt the deepest sense of joy that what God promises us through Jesus is really, really true.

I am convinced that a godly woman in my family met her Redeemer this week with great joy.

And as she found herself in a place of unspeakable beauty, I suspect that, like the Queen of Sheba who traveled to see for herself the splendors of Solomon's kingdom (2 Chr 9:6), this grandma exclaimed in awe:

"I was not even told the half of it!"


Vicki said...

What a beautiful tribute to a grandma. Thanks for the expressive word picture of her new home.

debby94 said...

Oh Angie! This brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss, but I rejoice with you in the fact that grandma is in heaven. You have such a way with words. Thank you for blessing me with them!

Megan Casteel said...

This is beautifully written, Angie. I am sorry you all had to lose your Grandma, but rejoicing too.