Two years ago today (01/23/2016) my mom put on immortality and entered the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Shortly following her death, my older son, Michael, penned the words that follow. They are a blessing to me. I trust you find them to be a blessing to you.
Michael's note (01/11/2018): Two years have passed since my Nan died. Her memory remains fresh with me. While I still miss her very much, I am not overcome by her death nor do I worry for her. Instead, I say with the apostle, "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." I wrote the follwoing shortly following her death.
In the weeks since grandma passed away, I’ve had time to think about her life and death. I loved this woman, and her death has presented a challenge for me in my faith. Believing that God will accomplish his plan for eternity is easy, believing his goodness for my family today is hard.
She was the self-described “energizer bunny”, and even in retirement she played her clarinet in the church orchestra, educated children, and drove far beyond the grocery store and post office. Even though we all knew her heart was abandoning her, it still came as a surprise when it finally quit. It’s hard to believe God when someone so full of life loses it.
Maybe I’ve doubted because of the personal relationship we had with each other. Since high school, we’ve called and texted frequently because she was a cool, flip-phone-texting kind of grandma. None of my friends had a grandma like her. And I wasn’t just asking for cookies, Pepsi, and pizza anymore; I wanted her opinions and advice on marriage, Christianity, and my job - while, of course, still asking for cookies, Pepsi, and pizza. As her oldest grandchild, God granted me more time with her than my siblings or cousins. She was more than just my grandma, “Nanny” was my friend. It’s hard to believe God when He takes your friend.
Like so many before me, I began to ponder difficult questions. Why would God take her home? Why allow her to die when she still had so much to offer? What’s your plan here, God? Nothing about the situation seemed right. In our age of seeming medical miracles, how could a reasonably healthy woman have no option to live before the age of 70? Why would God take home one of his best servants? This woman, lying on her deathbed, was giving the gospel to her nurses and all who came to her room. Why take a woman like that away from her family and friends? And why take a woman home when she still wanted to live? It’s hard to believe God when His plan doesn’t match up with ours.
God, in his grace, did not give any direct answers; I still don’t know why he took her home. Frankly, I doubt I ever will. Instead, God gave himself to my family, and He showered us with the promises of his character. He wrapped us up in the security of his Word and calmed our fears and doubts. A few nights before she passed away, I sat down at my table and wrote two lists. The first is God’s actions, and the second is my responses.
God’s Actions in Nanny’s Death
- God looked down from heaven to us on earth (Psalm 113:5-6).
Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
- God raised a poor woman from the dust and garbage pile and placed her with the nobility of heaven (Psalm 113: 7-8).
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
- God collected our tears so that not one of them would be forgotten (Psalm 56:8).
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
- Like Lazarus, God raised Nanny from the dead, but not to a life of continued hardship; she lives with the Savior (John 11:25).
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."
- God demonstrated the complete victory of Jesus over the devil. (Hebrews 2:14).
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.
- God provided peace (John 14:27, Philippians 4:6-7).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- God provided us a glimpse of the joy we will one day experience (John 16:22).
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
- God ushered her into her true home, His presence (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
My responses to Nan's Death and God's Actions
- Trust the Lord and stop carrying your own burdens. We aren’t superheroes (1 Peter 5:7).
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
- Praise the Lord. He will continue to do great things. Not even death can stop his work (Psalm 113:1-3).
Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
- Grieve as believers - with hope! (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
- Walk by faith and rejoice for Nanny as she walks by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6-7).
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.
- Keep running! There is a new spectator encouraging us onward (Hebrews 12:1).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
As always I welcome your feedback and any ideas you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.