5.01.2010

even in death we can have hope

Last week was a painful one. I literally attended three funerals in 3 days, along with three visitations on the nights before. Between two friends from our church, one somewhat anticipated after a long bout with cancer, and one so sudden and impactful that well over 1,000 people attended the visitation alone, between those two, we buried my grandma. She had been diagnosed with cancer barely a month ago, and hardly fought at all.

Death is never a good thing. It's not good because it is not meant to be good. We sin, meaning we consistently want our own way instead of God's, which leads us into all kinds of awful thoughts, behaviors and actions. And for that, He says, we earn death. It's a reminder of this world as fallen, of our own mortality, of God's seriousness about our situation. It causes incredible pain for those left behind. Yet, even through all this, we can have hope.

In the midst of everything, I decided to write a eulogy about my grandma. That brought back some great memories of my life and hers, and ways God has blessed that I see now more clearly than ever. But I also wanted to explain how, why and by whom hope is still possible. Here's what I shared:

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Proverbs 17:6 reads, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” I really appreciated a note I read on this verse, which states, “Both young and old should cherish their intergenerational relationships.” It is difficult to realize I stand here today to remember my last remaining grandparent, but there is so much to be said for cherishing the days God has given.

In recent weeks, of course, I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing about days spent with my grandma. As one of the grandkids, along with my brother, I’ve had my whole life to build up these memories.

I’ve been remembering all sorts of random things, like going downtown with my grandparents around Christmas as a young child, taking in all the huge displays that back then you only saw in department stores and not on your neighbor’s front lawn.

I was thinking of the time my brother and I stayed with them for a week when our parents went on a mission trip, and all the fun we had going places or just staying at their house and playing, or sleeping on the fluffy white carpet in their front room and waking to the ticks and chimes of that old grandmother clock.

Of course there are all the holidays, and the sights and sounds and smells that went along with those each and every year. They just loved getting together on Christmas and Easter for lots of sharing and gifts and food, grandma putting together some great meals, and on Fourth of July we’d watch the fireworks at the nearby park, sometimes right from their backyard, as we did even just last year.

But throughout this flood of memories, I just keep coming back to one word: Generosity.

I love this, because generosity is such a huge attribute of God Himself. God created man in His image, and even though we currently live in a damaged world, we can still see that tarnished image of the Creator in His creation. And in my grandma, I remember generosity.

I know she was generous with her time volunteering in nursing homes. I remember going to one in particular several times with her as a child, and it was really nice these past few weeks, in spite of the circumstances, to meet some of the folks she was working with in Alton until even just a few short months ago.

Grandma often wanted to go do fun things, shopping and going out for lunch. I keep thinking of trips to malls, such as Northwest Plaza even back when it wasn't all enclosed, and frequent visits to, of all places, Burger King. The dining got a little more elaborate as I grew up, but she always insisted on paying. But more important to me, especially as I got older, was just spending time together.

I’ve personally seen God provide for me and for my family through my grandparents in an incredible variety of ways for so many years, even in ways I could never repay.

And that brings me back to God’s generosity. God loved the world He made so much, He gave too. But His giving was bigger than anything we could imagine, or ever dream of doing. He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, and it’s His generosity that creates our only Hope in this world or the next.

To quote God's Word, “The wages of sin is death, but the free GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So to everyone who receives His generosity, turning from sin and to Jesus, He gives that gift, a gift not based on anything we can do or have or give back, which wouldn’t make it a gift at all, but based on everything Jesus Himself was willing to give—His own life. That is a generosity that’s simply amazing.

I’m so thankful to God for the years He gave me with my grandma, and grandpa as well, and for letting me see just a little of His overwhelmingly generous character in them. As much as I will miss, the example the Lord gave through them is something I will never forget.

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