Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Call Your Grandparents

Grandpa at my cousin Jenna's wedding
My grandfather Norman Casimer Andrews went to be with the Lord today. It's been a tough day to say the least. A flood of memories comes back as I remember my time with him, but we should take comfort in the Lord's sovereignty. I can assure you that my grandfather was surrounded by our family, and my grandmother.

My grandfather was ready to go. This past weekend he told my parents and grandmother that he was "..ready to be with the Lord." It is amazing that God has created us with this recognition, but it is a further comfort in the truth that this Earth is not our home, and that we will never see death. We were made to be with the Lord. Jesus came at Christmas that we might have eternal life. “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Paul, the author of Corinthians encourages us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, that God is our comfort.

Admittedly, I've struggled with the idea of death over the past month or two. I think the fact that my grandfather was nearing his passing was one of the reasons. There were days within the past few months where my eventual death was the first thing on my mind in the morning, paralyzing me from true fellowship and instilling fear in almost everything I did.

It was a dark week and a half, and I am still wading through many of my thoughts. I plan on heading to Michigan to be with family, and can relate to the words of pastor John Piper when he speaks about returning home, and especially when seeing family. Piper says,
"Do you feel restless for home? I have family coming home for the holidays. It feels good. I think the bottom line reason for why it feels good is that they and I are destined in the depths of our being for an ultimate Homecoming. All other homecomings are foretastes. And foretastes are good."
 There are very few times that I can remember my grandfather instructing us in something of great depth, as it was normally something trivial or to do with fishing or horse racing, but in these past few days I probably learned the most from him. It was apparent that he did not fear death and that he knew it would be his time.

The Lord graciously gave my grandfather many years, surrounded by a loving wife, four successful sons and their wives, and all of us grandchildren. In his final days he got to be near, or speak to, many of us.

I was able to speak to Grandpa Andrews yesterday for about 30 seconds. I made sure to tell him that the Lord loved him and that I loved him. With that, he briefly told me two things. First: That "We love you too". After being married for so long, it really does become your mentality that you and your spouse are a unit! And secondly, he wished that Emily and I would have a wonderful wedding. That one struck a chord. It's a great final memory of my grandpa, and the fact that we were on his mind during his last few hours of life brings joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. I would have loved to have celebrated our marriage with him. I was able to celebrate their 50th anniversary by singing their wedding song to them, "Let Me Call You Sweetheart". I will be thinking of him on March 16th as Emily and I are married. It's my hope that our family will be able to look to death, not with fear, but with comfort, knowing that Christ's death and resurrection destroyed the power of sin and death. Oh how freeing! It's my hope that we can remember this truth, and look to the Lord for our eternal rest.
Singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart"

I always enjoy calling my grandparents, and even more so after having moved to college and then away from Michigan. Their wisdom and experience are invaluable, even when we find it pretty intolerable as children. Their stories remind us of much simpler times. We heard about the numerous jobs my grandpa seemed to hold, selling copiers and having served in the Coast Guard. He would always tell us about the time when he was allowed to steer a ship into port. And for the record, I will never believe this one! Us grandchildren remember his Mobil coffee mug that he used in the car to take us all up north to our cottage. Or the time he had to come get us grandkids from the Detroit Zoo because our Grandma had locked her keys in her car, while it was running!

I will continue to call my grandmother, hopefully even more often now. We'll talk about the weather, how her garden is doing, and most importantly, how the Tigers are doing. And, I'll be sure to comfort her, tell her I love her, and that the Lord loves her, just as I did with Grandpa. Our grandparents are gifts of great treasure and a grace from the Lord, so, go ahead, call your grandparents.