Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Death Has No Sting

I lived for 23 years before I ever had to face the reality of death, and I don’t know if that was good for me, or bad. Good in the sense that I was spared from immense loss throughout childhood, but bad because I never really had to think about my own mortality in tangible ways—this person was alive and here, and now they are not.

Joan Garrett, my grandmother, passed away in August. She lived for 80 years, which is a full life compared to many. And as I heard the news this weekend of the impending death of my pastor’s father, I was forced to think again about my own grandmother’s death that is still fresh in my mind.

There were many things that Grandma’s dying taught me. But the thing that struck me most, as I heard the announcement this Sunday, was how grateful I am that Grandma and Grandpa gave me my mom, and most importantly that they took my mom to a church where she could hear the Gospel and repent and believe. I am convinced that the reason I am the woman I am today is because of the prayers, teaching, and example of my mom (and dad of course, sorry daddy, I’ll write about you later). The things that Grandma taught my mom, she passed on to me. I do not remember that often enough.

As Grandma was getting near the end, Mom never left her. The horrors of death and the awful reality of a failing body did not scare Mom away. She stayed until the end, singing hymns and reading Scripture. The Gospel truths that Grandma passed onto Mom were made manifest in her willingness to give up many nights of sleep in order to stay by the bedside of my failing Grandma.

Dying is not a pretty picture. We cover it with fancy caskets and dolled-up corpses, all the while trying to hide from the fact that death is imminent. We cannot escape it. One day all of us will be in that casket, but most importantly all of us will be meeting our Maker. The reason why Mom could sit with my Grandma is because of the Gospel. Death had no sting for Grandma and death has no sting for Mom. It’s sad, but it really isn’t the end. The victory of Jesus Christ over the grave enables us to sit with the dying because we have nothing to fear in death. Jesus paid it all.

And so, as I reflect on the dying and suffering that is all around me, I am grateful. Grateful that a Sovereign Creator before the foundation of the world planned to put me in a family where I would hear the Gospel. And someday, when my Mom is preparing to meet her King, I will be able to sit up all night with her too, singing to her the songs that she once sang to me, knowing that death is not the end, and one day Grandma, Mom, and I will all be praising our Savior together for eternity.


Steven said...

Wow. This is very strange timing for such a blog. I wrote this in my MySpace blog yesterday:
"I stirred at 4:55 a.m. because of a presence in my room. I wasn't startled -- though I was surprised by THAT fact. My grandmother was hovering over my bed, folding my quilt into her hands. I asked her several times what she was doing. Each time until the last she ignored me, ultimately answering, "I do what they do."
I got a phone call late last night saying that she had been rushed to the hospital. The prognosis is not good -- the doctors wanted to be sure there was a living will -- and as of yet I have been unable to go visit her.
Your post was simultaneously calming and encouraging. I have not yet experienced death my family, only on the periphery. But I am not afraid for my grandmother's sake, only for the prospect that I will regret not having been a better grandson.

cdt said...

Thank you for sharing that Steve. I will be praying for your grandmother as she is nearing the end. May God grant your family comfort in this time of grief.

Pastor John has written two very moving blog posts in the wake of his father's death yesterday. You can find them here:

Very moving and Christ-exalting reflection on the death of a loved one. I praise God for his faith and ability to bring great hope through Christ in times of despair.

You are in my prayers Steve.

stellerblue32 said...

hearing about pastor john's father also made me think of my grandma, who died this last june. she was my first close relative that had passed away, and it was a very hard time for me, just because i hadnt had to deal with death that close to home before, and its really easy to go along with life not realizing that it could end at any time. i am very thankful for grandma and her faith, she was strong til the very end, and her death has moved my grandpa to cling to Jesus more than ever before in his life. thank you for your post, it was very encouraging.