I had the great honor of planning and preaching yesterday’s funeral service for Carrie-Anne’s grandmother who died on Thanksgiving Day. Gran Gran was the center of that family’s life. Everything we did on Carrie-Anne’s side of the family revolved around Gran Gran. She was a rock of strength and a fountain of joy. She laughed loudly and often. She hugged fiercely. She loved everybody with everything she had. She was the kind of grandmother you wish all children had. She was the kind of grandparent I want to be someday.
One of Carrie-Anne’s younger cousins asked me after the service, “How in the world did you manage to keep your composure while you were talking about Gran Gran? How did you not start crying?”
“It’s easy,” I told her. “I really do believe the things I talked about.”
I really do believe that Gran Gran is in a much better place, the place she was created by our God to ultimately live. I really do believe that since Christ was raised from the dead, we are all going to be raised from the dead to live forever in the holy presence of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. I really do believe that she is experiencing now the culmination of all of God’s promises and guarantees, the fulfillment of all of God’s eternal plans, that she really does have a new body and a new mind, and that I really am going to see her again very soon.
It’s not just words. It’s indisputable truth. It’s undeniable fact. Death does not have the final word. Death is not the bottom line. Our risen Lord has all power and all authority and he always writes the last chapter.
So we don’t grieve as others grieve. We don’t mourn as others mourn. Yes, there is sadness in her leaving. Of course, there is a heavy sense of loss. Oh yeah, there are tears. But, seriously, it’s more like she’s taken off on another cruise somewhere and we are all going to see her again.
Actually, it’s much better than that. She’s a conqueror today. She’s a victor. The New Testament image of a funeral procession is one of great triumph, like a victorious general returning home to a huge parade of cheering witnesses, that great cloud of witnesses who’ve gone on before. Gran Gran is rejoicing today. And I rejoice with her.
May we always grieve in a way that brings glory to our Father. May our mourning accurately reflect the Good News of our guaranteed salvation from God in Christ. May our responses to the death of our loved ones bring our King, the Lord of Life, eternal honor and praise.