My grandpa went to be with Jesus yesterday. He was 89 years young. A faithful husband of one woman for almost 64 years; father of 8 children; grandfather of 30 grand-kids, and great-grandfather of 20 and counting. Some would say he lived a full, wonderful, life. And he did.
Gramps was known for the goofy little things he'd say to us grand-kids. Like "Be good", "Don't take any wooden nickels", and questions like, "Do you think you'll live all your life?" My personal favorite was when you'd drive in the car with him. Upon reaching your destination, he would stop the car and say, "Kids. That's as far as I'm going." It always brought a smile and a laugh to my heart.
Saying good-bye to such a beloved grandpa was difficult yesterday, and it will be difficult again as the wake and funeral are still before us. But that phrase, "that's as far as I'm going" keeps sticking in my head. No one knew to expect it, but March 24, 2017 was as far as he was going on this earth. It's sad to think how many people face their own death or the death of their loved one thinking "that's as far as I'm going" and that's the end of it. What peace and joy it gives my heart to know that while Gramps is no longer "going" on earth, his soul is at home with Jesus.
Almost two months ago exactly, I copied the following in my journal:
2 Timothy 4:8 - "There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness", followed by these words from Charles Spurgeon: "'There is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear; it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it.' O Christian, what a joyous thought! Your portion is secure."
Gramps now has the crown and the seat in heaven that were made for him. I can think of no greater peace. To think that God has made, and is keeping, crowns that shall fit no head but the head of His beloved children gives us reason to sing joyfully even while our hearts are sad.
Yes, there is some comfort in the fact that my grandpa truly did live a long life. Almost 90 years. Long and full, no doubt about it. Even as I write, I can recall to my mind several stories I've heard in the last two weeks of people losing loved ones at incredibly young ages. When we hear of a 21-year-old or a 13-year-old who has lost their life, it is our natural reaction to think, "Oh, they were taken before their time!"
And while it does hurt our hearts to lose those we love when they are young, we must guard ourselves from thinking that it truly was before their time. How could it actually be before their time when God has numbered the days of His children? He gives to some 89 years. To others only 16 years. Or 45 or 67. But we must never think that we didn't go as far as God planned for us to go. Not a single one of us knows the day or time that God has planned to call them home. We must live each day as the gift that it is. That way, when the time comes for you to actually say of your earthly life, "this is as far as I'm going," you will have peace, knowing that you lived on this earth as far as your heavenly Father wanted you to, no matter how large or small that number of years happens to be. Now He wants you in the seat that He prepared for you, wearing the crown upon your head that will fit no head but yours. Isn't it a joy to know that "as far as you are going" doesn't actually end on earth, but rather in the heavenly throne-room of your loving Father?
Enjoy your throne and wear your crown proudly, Gramps! Heaven is as far as you're going. Praise the Lord that such is true for us as well!