Death Brings Clarity

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Yesterday morning around 7:30am I saw a missed call from my mom.  Even though we didn’t speak, I was fairly certain why she called: she wanted to let me know my grandmother had just died.

Several weeks ago, I visited her in the hospital.  We spent a few hours together talking, laughing and saying goodbye.  Although we didn’t say it to one another, I think we both sensed that it was the last time we would see each other on this side of eternity.  Before I left her room, we prayed and then I kissed her on her forehead and we both said I love you. 

That was a sweet time and although grandmother was in a lot of pain, she had her wits and was completely present.  She told me that she was ready to go home to be with Jesus, but that she was still nervous about death.  I paused when she told me that.  I didn’t know what to say in response.  If I were in her shoes, I would have been thinking the same thing. 

As I processed the news of her death, I started to think deeply about this reality we all face.  Like Sigmund Marvin says in What About Bob, “we’re all going to die.”  There’s no escape.  Grandmother understood this well.  But she also had a great peace about the whole ordeal.  Why?  Because she cherished and loved Jesus with all her heart.  That’s what it all boiled down to.  Jesus. 

My grandmother breathed her last breath about 28 hours ago.  And immediately after this, she became more alive than she ever was here on earth.  How?  Because she went to be with Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  I started to think about what that must have been like for her.  I imagined her coming face-to-face with Jesus.  Then I pictured her touching his hands, seeing the holes from the nails, and staring into his eyes only to say, “thank you, Jesus, for what you’ve done for me.”  After that, maybe they shared a huge bear hug?  Or perhaps Jesus asked my grandfather to come over and see her? 

Obviously, I don’t know for certain if that happened, or if is taking place right now.  But what I do know is that her death has provided clarity for how I am to approach my life.  I feel like I focus on all the wrong things.  Meaning that I can get all wrapped up in planning for the future to a degree that steals the joy from my present reality.  And that reality is that I’m not promised tomorrow.  All I know is that I’m alive right now. 

This perspective clarifies how I am to use my time.  So, this morning as I spent time with the Holy Spirit and journaled about my grandmother’s death, I prayed about what I should be centering on right now.  A few initial thoughts were family, friends and community.  But as I spent more time sitting in God’s presence, he turned my attention to Matthew 22: 37-40.  There, Jesus says the following: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”    

Talk about clarity and boiling everything down to something simple.  Love God and love people.  That’s where everything starts and when we all come to die, that will be where everything ends.  Thanks for starting that conversation, Grandmother.  You always pointed me to Christ when you were alive, and you continue to do so even after you died.  I love you.