I am not exactly sure why Grandpa planned for me to speak at his funeral. In reality, I had asked him to be a pallbearer at mine. Apparently he had forgotten his responsibility.
Perhaps he wanted me to speak because of his unique view of me. In a journal he filled out for me he answered the question: “What are ways you are different from your grandson?” by stating “Dumb as a box of rocks. You, not me.” What can I say?
Grandpa regularly talked with me about Gods providence. He included it in his journal. We would talk about it around their sun room dining table. We would talk about it on the phone.
Providence is God’s continuing and often unseen activity in sustaining his universe, providing for the needs of every creature, and preparing for the completion of his eternal purposes.
The story of Grandpa’s life is the calling of his God and Savior Jesus Christ. Often times behind the scenes, sometimes in visible ways, but always with the intent that Grandpa Jack would come to him.
Jesus called him into existence
- Grandpa loved making things. I suppose he had a hand in starting the whole “reuse/recycle/repurpose” movement, or at least a more backwoods and slightly less fashionable rendition
- He made birdhouses out of scrap lumber that used to be old sheds that used to be old houses, that were probably something before that!
- He loved to create things, and that was the outworking of God’s image in him. John 1 tells us “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made.” It was Jesus who called Grandpa Jack into existence, and it was Jesus who Grandpa Jack was mirroring when he made things.
But that wasn’t the only way that Jesus was calling Grandpa Jack.
Jesus was earnestly pursuing Grandpa Jack through visible and invisible, direct and indirect actions.
Jesus called him into his flock (John 10)
- John 10:14-16 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
- Jesus laid down his life for Grandpa Jack, and then spent 28 years calling him to himself until Grandpa Jack finally heard his voice in June of 1943.
- Grandpa Jack was not embarrassed about that. He loved Jesus because Jesus had first loved him, and Jesus continued to love him even in his grouchy old self.
- Grandpa Jack needed Jesus because he was a sinner. Though Jesus had called him into existence, he had rebelled and chosen his own way, just like the rest of us. But Jesus still called him, even when Grandpa Jack didn’t want to listen.
- I remember Grandpa Jack calling me out from under the ping pong table after I had disobeyed and kicked a ball in the house, breaking some of Grandma’s tea cups. I had watched the ball hit the tea cup shelf by their sunroom door, and as if in slow motion I remember a cup falling and hitting the floor, shattering. I then remember the mad dash down the stairs and into the first hiding spot I could find. But Grandpa didn’t leave me there. Probably because of Grandma, he came looking for me and we made things right.
But Jesus didn’t give his life, and spend so many years calling Grandpa Jack just to give him something to do for his 98.5 years. No, he had a bigger purpose. He wanted Grandpa Jack to know him face to face.
Jesus called him into his heaven (John 14)
- That same Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep, promised to come again and call Grandpa Jack and all the other followers of Jesus to be with him.
- John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
- This is the reason why we call this a celebration, not a mere funeral. It is because Grandpa Jack won’t just be buried, he will be planted. His new body will not be hunched over. His new hands will not need those purple gloves. Jesus has called Grandpa Jack to be with him, and now Grandpa can see his Savior face to face.
- I remember staying with Grandma and Grandpa out at the Cabin in Montana. When I would stay with them I got the loft. It was uniquely constructed by some stroke of brilliance (that runs in the family) so during the day when you wanted to take a nap it was about 120 degrees, and then at night it normally averaged 20 degrees. You would spend the night tucked into an old musty green army sleeping bag that spent all but two weeks of the year sealed up in an old suitcase. But when morning came, you could hear Grandma getting breakfast ready and Grandpa would be starting a fire in the stove, and then he would call you down. He would call you because a new day had started. There were trout to catch, mountains to climb, driftwood to collect, and white-water rafters to pester with fishing hooks. It was a new day and Grandpa Jack was calling you down.
- Jesus has called Grandpa Jack to his home. It is a new day.
Jesus is the only way, the only truth, the only life. No one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Jesus is calling right now. The same voice that called you into existence can be heard today. Jesus stood up in the temple and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38). Do you hear his voice?