One of the movies that I can turn on and have playing in the background is Just Go with It with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston. If you are familiar with the movie, you may remember the scene towards the end where they (Sandler and Anniston) are having dinner with another couple, when the guy has to take a phone call. As he gets up to move away from the table to take the call, he turns to his wife and they rub their noses together while sharing what they love most about the other. It is a pretty comical scene, one that obviously makes the characters played by Sandler and Anniston laugh. After leaving, the woman turns around and explains what just happened. She explains they made a commitment to always share what they love about the other every time they leave each other’s presence.
I am reminded of this scene this week given the passing of my grandfather. This past Sunday my mom had the whole family over her house for Christmas. We exchanged presents, took pictures, and ate a big meal. Before leaving, Joannie, the kids, and I went around telling everyone good-bye, giving them a hug, and telling them we loved them. My granddaddy was included in the rounds.
As I hugged my granddaddy, it never dawned on me that it would be the last hug I would give him as well as the last time I would tell him, “I love you.” Although he was 80, he seemed to be a very healthy 80; thus, I unconsciously thought I would just see him in a couple of months. But death has its way of sneaking up on us, and early Tuesday morning (December 23) my granddad fell asleep and went home to be with the Lord.
Once again I am reminded of the fragility of life. I am reminded that life is a vapor—here today, gone tomorrow. I am reminded that you can be celebrating Christmas one day with a person, and then a few days later be celebrating their life at their funeral. Given this, that odd amusing scene from Just Go with It, just might have some validity to it. I know, given that we all despise death and never want to experience it, our minds and hearts do not want to think that this could be the last time we would see those we love. However, reality is we all will taste the pain and grief of passing (at least until Jesus comes back) in this broken world.
Knowing what I know now, that good-bye and “I love you” on Sunday would have included a tighter hug along with a few more words. Those few more words would have been something like:
- “Granddaddy, I thank God for you and your love for the Lord.” [His love for the Lord, His word, and His church truly was a contagion in our family. God used my granddaddy to bring me to where I am today. I firmly believe it was granddaddy’s investment into his kids (including my mom) that laid the foundation for my mom to be so committed to the Lord and church, which has greatly impacted my life. My granddad has played a huge role in where God has me today.]
- “Granddaddy, I love spending time sitting in your presence.” [I think my granddad loved sitting in a recliner listening to either background music, glancing at the stock market numbers, or watching a good John Wayne film. But he really loved sitting there listening and observing his family; and truthfully, his family was more at ease knowing he was there and internally smiling in his heart as he watched the joy surrounding him.]
- “Granddaddy, I really enjoy sparring with you over matters of theology and politics.” [My granddaddy knew the word (which is why he loved it so much), and probably over the course of 60+ years of being a believer had forgotten more than I have learned. However, I will miss sitting with him at the kitchen table talking about the word of God and how the church can be better positioned to reach people far from God.]
- “Granddaddy, you model faithfulness in an excellent way.” [Simply put, my granddaddy was a faithful man. He was faithful to the Lord, faithful to his wife (57 years), faithful to his kids, faithful to his grandchildren, and faithful to his church. He epitomized faithfulness.]
As I sit in Starbucks typing this, I am fighting to hold back the tears. I loved my granddaddy, and will miss him immensely. However, in the midst of a great loss, I am reminded once again of the greatness of our God, King, and Savior. In Jesus, we have a hope that is unwavering and unending. And because of Jesus and the faith that my grandfather placed in him, to be absent in his body is to be present with the Lord. I know that because of Jesus I have the hope of being united with my grandfather one day and giving him that tighter hug and sharing those few extra words. In the meantime, I pray that I would be faithful like my grandfather, and learn to give the tighter hugs and share a few more words with those I love because it just might be my last opportunity. Let us all learn to give those tighter hugs and share those few extra words with those we love.