If there is one thing I know at this point in my life, it is that life is messy and God is real. When I think back on my earliest childhood memories, I remember hearing about other people dying and feeling sad, but not much more than that. It wasn’t until I was going into middle school that I experienced the death of someone very close to me —my grandfather.
I will never forget it. It was a Saturday morning, late July 1981. I heard the phone ringing as I was watching some Saturday morning cartoons when I heard the most woeful cry come from my Dad as he yelled out “NO!” He had just been given the dreadful news that his father, my Pops, had died. Thankfully we lived in the same town as my grandparents and that was comforting for my family as we began to process this news. Nothing can really prepare you for this kind of pain. When you first hear the news you are overwhelmed with disbelief. “This can’t be true. I just saw him.” I should have been able to see my Pops the next day at church; to sit with him in a pew and hear his big voice. During my life he was a man who truly loved the Lord.
As months passed after my Pops’ death I spent a lot of time with my grieving grandmother who I called Bam Bam. She shared with me the story about how she and Pops met. I found out he didn’t become a Christian until 16 years into their marriage and that he had sown some wild oats leading up to the time when he finally gave his life over to the Lord. In those conversations I began to grow and see my grandfather as a human and less as the super shellacked perfect person I thought he was. I admired my grandmother for praying and waiting for God during those 16 years. I realized for the first time in my life that we are all works in progress. I also realized that life is short and that I would most certainly have to deal with death again, and that it is important to value the time I have been given and to get clear on what I believed.
Since that first experience with death I have had to grieve the loss of my father, my grandmothers, uncles, cousins and friends. Each time I am reminded of the treasure of time. I am also reminded that life doesn’t fit into my convenient mold. It is messy, but God is real. His truths are real and that is a great comfort knowing it is only for a little while that I have to wait before I join them. I know this thanks to a Bible verse my Pops taught me: “For God so Loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16”