Monday, June 12, 2006

Thoughts from my grandpa's funeral

- It is sad how little I knew of my grandpa. Though I saw him consistently throughout my childhood and even after I returned from college, language and cultural barriers often separated us. It makes me sad to think of how easily I allowed these barriers to discourage me from building a more significant relationship with him. Yet these barriers will one day be removed.

- There closes another relationship my life. There is nothing more I can say to him, or kindness I can show to him, or encouragement I can write to him, on this side of eternity. The finality of death never ceases to astonish me!

- I really wish I could know what my grandpa was thinking, experiencing, struggling with, worried about, enjoying, etc... when he was my age. More importantly, I wish I could hear him share about things that God taught him through circumstances, in the Bible, through ministry, through mistakes he made, through risks he took... I resolved to be more disciplined in keeping my journal, for the sake of my descendants (Lord willing) whom I will never meet.

- One of my older cousins shared about how when he was little, he asked my grandpa why he wore a watch, and my grandpa solemnly responded, "My grandson... you must understand that time is very precious. It is a gift from God and we must use it well."

- After my grandpa's funeral, at dinner, I met my newborn niece for the first time, Amelia. And so it goes... one generation passes on, and another one comes. And my generation must one day pass on as well. Approximately 100 years from now, every single person that is alive today will be dead and gone, and an entirely new population of people will be on this earth. Indeed, time is very precious.

- What an unnatural thing it is to see a body separated from its soul. This body I am looking at once belonged to my grandpa. One day it will be raised up and will again belong to him. But for now, it lies lifeless, and my grandfather must exist in an unnatural, disembodied existence. Yes, it is better to be "away from the body and at home with the Lord". But at the same time, I know he awaits the day when he will put on his heavenly body that he "may not be found naked" (2 Cor. 5:2-9).

- What a sobering picture of the terribleness of sin is death. Ultimately, death is not a result of old age, or sickness, or accident, but of sin. God warned Adam that he would die the day he disobeyed. And it was true. We died when Adam sinned, and now we must receive its wages (Rom. 6:23). I sin everyday, and often don't give a second thought. But may I wake up and see here in the tears, in the coldness, in the stripping of all life, the true nature of sin.

- But what a difference the gospel makes! It is the difference between the worst possible event to the best possible event. Christ died to decisively break the power of sin and overcome death by offering himself as a substitution in place of all sinners who will embrace him by faith. Had this not been the case, this funeral would truly be the most horrific event imaginable: Everything good, everything enjoyable, everything pleasurable in the world, would have ended with my grandfather's death, forever. And he would soon have to stand before a holy Judge to give an account for his sins, without anyone to cover him.

- But because of Christ, he is clothed with his perfect righteousness, so that this death is a finishing of the race and a receiving of the fulfillment of God's promises. Instead of it being the most horrific event imaginable, because of Christ, it now becomes the most wonderful event possible: Every good, every joy, every pleasure that my grandfather experienced, will come back to him ten-thousandfold in the presence of Christ, increasing forever. And he will now spend eternity in joy with the One for whom he was made.

- The week before my grandpa left, we gathered together as a family to sing and share and pray for each other. My grandpa shared a story about when he used to work for Gideon's International in Taiwan (he did this for over 20 years!) and distribute Bibles to military personnel, in schools, in hospitals, etc... In one occasion, he was passing out a Bible to a junkie, and some of his co-workers told him not to, because he would just use the pages of the Bible to roll tobacco so he could smoke it. Many of these junkies would find discarded cigarette butts and collect scraps of leftover tobacco and make their own cigarettes. But my grandpa insisted and handed him a New Testament, knowing that the Word of God is powerful to change lives. Sure enough, the junkie took the Bible and began tearing pages to roll his cigarettes, but when he came to the page where Christ rose from the dead, he found that he could no longer tear the page anymore, and had to find out who this book was talking about, because he had never heard of anyone rising from the dead! And so he found a pastor, who shared with him the gospel and he believed. My grandpa told this story at least 6-7 times that night (each time forgetting he already had told it), and every time he would say with passion and emphasis, "Jesus Christ rose from the dead!" Though at his age, his faculties, his sense of logic, his memory were all diminished, his faith in the death and resurrection of Christ for sinners remained unshaken. And it is because Christ rose again that this dead body will one day also be raised in glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

2 Comments:

Blogger jennifer said...

What a wonderful testimony to the gospel of Christ your grandpa's life was! And he has left an example for his descendants that surely pleases and honours God. This is how I have been praying for my grandparents, who are obviously deteriorating physically and mentally, that though their flesh and their heart may fail, God will be their strength and their portion forever. I will remember your family in my prayers.

8:02 PM  
Blogger finnegan* said...

Thanks for writing this post. It meant a lot for me to read it. I definitely struggle with the ugliness of death. But I think you're right, it just shows us the severity of our everyday nature. There's nothing more sobering than a funeral to snap you out of your fluffyduffy mentality.

11:38 AM  

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