I don’t know how old I was when my Father went fishing with his Father, and was late coming back. We were in Wellington at the time, and there were toy bees hanging from our bunk beds and musical sticks in the living room. We were bundled into the car with Grandma, not really understanding but knowing enough to be upset. She started singing ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ to stop us thinking about it. Grandma and Hail and I sang it as a round, our voices echoing into the dark night. I remember staring out the window not knowing what was happening, but knowing that Grandma was sure it would be ok, and so it was. They came home.
And that’s Grandma, really. She didn’t fuss or preach or gush then and she doesn’t now either. She loved Jesus, steadily and wholeheartedly and confidently. This is truer than it has ever been now, as she waits to meet him.
I was warned by Hails and Aunty Lyn that she wouldn’t want me to cry, but there wasn’t anything sad about being with her to warrant it. She’s so incredibly joyful, and at peace. She wrote this in an email a few months ago when we first found out she was sick:
“Just want to say that there isn’t a thing melancholic about what is going on. It is a most amazing thing instead. Have never before experienced anything like it. I want you to know that I am very happy.”
This happiness is anchored in Jesus, who is holding on to her. She wakes in the night and listens to an audio bible on her iPad, or recalls the words of her favourite hymns, or types out pages of thoughts as they occur to her. She thinks about Ridgecrest, the Christian campsite she and Grandpa began. She thinks about her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She thinks about old friends and God’s providence across her life. As all around her is darkness, she eats shortbread and prays to the light of the world for the salvation of her family
And so this woman who has always pointed us to Jesus is still pointing, sitting up in her bed and radiating the hope found in him to everyone who visits. She would be the first to say it isn’t because of anything in her – she is ordinary, made extraordinary by grace.
My Grandma is who she is because of her Saviour. And she is becoming more beautiful, the closer she comes to seeing him.
So this morning the goodbye was not goodbye, and we didn’t linger over it. There is no doubt in my mind that, in this life or the next, we will meet again. As for these next few weeks, the lesson I learned long ago is truer than before. I don’t know what will happen, but I know she is sure it will be ok. And so it will. She is heading home.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Rejoice, rejoice, and again I say rejoice”.