The conversation started after a few attempts of trying to reach my brother. My parents also tried, and were already stressed because of the circumstance we all now found ourselves in. We knew we were never going to go about life as usual. Nothing was going to be the same.
Finally, my brother picked up the phone.
Me: We have been trying to call you…Papaw didn’t wake up this morning. He is gone. Mom and Dad just told me. I can’t believe he is gone.
Rick: What?! How? What happened?
Me: He went to sleep last night and he didn’t wake up.
Rick: (long pause) Ok…..yeah…..ok….yeah…You know. I have peace. I have peace about this…it’s all going to be okay. So, he died last night..as in Saturday night?
Me: Yeah…awesome huh? I think he knew the whole time. He has known for a while.
Rick: Yeah…it’s exactly what he wanted. He always wanted to go in his sleep and wake up in Heaven in time to sing in the choir.
The difficult conversation was followed by laughter and rejoicing. We had just lost a giant of a human being. He was a man who walked with Jesus daily and did not compromise his faith for any earthly comfort. Jesus was more than a storybook character to him. Jesus was friend, confidant, brother, teacher, master, and king. Jesus was everything.
If you have ever know someone who can be described this way, you can understand our reaction to Papaw’s death. While it was devastating that he was gone, our hearts were full of gladness and a sense of worship. It was a sad day, but a glorious one.
We felt a loss in our hearts, but it was a different loss than we have ever felt. The pain felt like one that a person would feel when sending a loved one to deployment (obviously multiplied). We knew we would see him again and could picture him dancing, eating, and rejoicing.
It was hard to explain it to my son. “Great Papaw go?” (translated: Where did Great Papaw go?) was a question we would hear often. So, we told him the truth. Papaw went to live with Jesus. We won’t see him anymore, but he is very happy. You can imagine the rest.
What is the point of this story? Well, when a person has lived a faithful life, centered in Jesus then death is simply a right of passage. While sadness, and grief is natural and healthy, there must be acknowledgment that the ultimate mission of the individual was achieved.
I want that. When I finally leave, I want people to laugh and be inspired to dedicate their lives to that which they may have once considered a hobby. Jesus is all.
Papaw left a void that no one will fill…and that’s okay. It was for a great cause. Do I think he is looking down on me right now, smiling? Um…I am not sure. He is probably too busy serving God, singing, and doing the work he was made to do. Worship.
I thank God that I had him as one of many examples.