Death is a difficult thing. We don’t understand it. We have a hard time coping with it. We wish it didn’t happen. But it does. It is a reality we must deal with however difficult it might be.
Last night my beloved “Grandpa Hank” made the journey from this life to the next. He lived a full life of 90+ years and was physically active in every one of those years. If I’m still playing golf in my 80’s like Grandpa was I will consider myself truly blessed. He was a man whom I seldom saw frown or get grumpy. His heart was one of the gentlest I have had the pleasure of knowing, something I hope he has passed on to the family. His laugh and chuckle could pick up the mood of any setting. I miss that chuckle and the way his eyes seemed to always exude love. He was a special man and I am blessed to have know him as “Grandpa.”
While my Grandpa took his last breath last night, he really died decades ago. He died when he was touched by the Gospel, when the Holy Spirit touched his heart and transformed him into newness of life, when he took hold of faith and believed in Jesus Christ. This is when Grandpa truly died. The Apostle Paul puts it like this:
We were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him… (Romans 6:4-6a)
This is the reality Christians stand in. If you have put your faith in Christ, then you have also died with him. And you have also been raised with him! This new life that comes is not something that begins in heaven, it begins the moment God enters our hearts. Grandpa died decades ago, but he also came to life decades ago. His faith was an example to me growing up and I am indebted to him. So while I weep this morning they are not simply tears of sorrow, but they are tears of joy! This new life that Grandpa began decades ago has come to fruition. Perfection has come this day as Grandpa has ascended to heaven, for every believer has “citizenship in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Death is necessary for us to come to know God. Thank you Grandpa for paving a way with your death decades ago so that you might be an example, or as Paul commends to us: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7). There is a greater reality to this life if we would but know Jesus. Heaven is a reality, someplace where God longs for us to join Him. Grandpa has joined Him this day and in this I rejoice. I miss you Grandpa and will see you face to face again someday soon.