"RIP Grandpa. I <3 you."
My sister posted that and I saw it on my news feed. The news broke to me of my grandfather's death by Facebook. I imagine I will not forget that moment and method of the delivery of such terrible news. It was expected that my grandfather may possibly die very soon. He entered hospice care a week before his death, but I was flippantly hopeful that he would pull through this time of great weakness and poor health.
He was the first close family member who died that I knew close and loved. Yes, my mother's father died almost a decade ago, but I never really knew him. I was close to my dad's father. Not as close as I want to be, he did move to Las Vegas many years ago for health reasons. He had emphysema after decades of smoking and other health problems and the humidity of the northeast and the cold did not help his weakened frame. Contact was infrequent at best. I had no excuse for not calling them more or writing them more letters.
The moment I saw my sister's Facebook status update I immediately called my father, who was in Las Vegas due to my grandfather's rapidly declining state of health. My grandfather died the morning of June 11th, 2010. My dad was not planning to tell me of his death until he arrived home. I imagine I would have found out before he came home regardless of my sister's Facebook update.
My grandfather was an man of no religion. He suspected churches of being after your money. Those are the only two (mildly) firm statements I can make regarding my grandfather's beliefs regarding religion and spirituality. Some may think "Oh, but we are all worshippers! Your grandfather must have worshipped something other than God." I do not doubt this, but I do not know what his sins were. I know that he was a sinner, born that way. All in all, I could say that my grandfather was a very kind, quiet, and polite man. Is this grounds for salvation? Can being nice rid one of the guilt of his sin? No, for even our righteous acts are as filthy rags.
The theology that my Christian life has been constructed on will not permit me to think that all is well regarding my grandfather's death.
Let me be honest and vulnerable:
- I believe that God is in control of everything.
- The God who bestows mercy on many guilty sinners freely also metes just punishment and wrath to those who die in their sins.
- God's plan of salvation is good and above my mind's capability to grasp fully.
- I don't know how to think through this fully: in all likelihood my grandfather will stand before God on judgment day and receive the verdict of guilty in sin.
- I am deeply saddened that my grandfather is dead. There is a deep sense in my mind and heart that death is not good. It is tragic when humans die.
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:14-24 ESV)
Please take in mind these things as you read this post:
- I have been praying about this for a while & will continue to do that first and foremost in addition to seeking God's counsel in his word.
- It is strange to write a blog post after your grandfather's death...but this is how I process things. I write. If for some reason this appalls you, well, suspend judgment for a moment and pray.
- Pleas pray for my grandmother, father, mother, sister, and any whom I will talk to about this death. Ask God to be glorified and ask that he would fling wide the doors of the hearts of man so the good news of Christ may enter.
- If anyone comments anything mean-spirited or ignorant in regards to the theology of salvation, then your comment will likely be deleted.