I was given the honor of speaking at my grandfather’s funeral this summer… I thought it was time to share what I said about him, and the Jesus I love so much.
For all my family members out there: How lucky are we to have someone that made saying goodbye so hard.
I have never been able to imagine a world without my grandpa. I have so many memories. So many laughs and giggles. Whenever I tell people about him, I’ll brag a little bit saying, “You know, my grandpa was literally a rocket scientist.”
But he was so much more than that.
Even now, I look back and remember what an unimaginably slow driver he was.
I remember relentlessly teasing him. When I was in the car with him I would say, “Pipaw, if a cop was behind you at that stop sign, he would have pulled you over for sitting there way too long.”
He would just chuckle and say, “Oh Gracer, you make me laugh,” not realizing that I was halfway serious.
We would always email back and forth. He wanted to read what I was writing and in return he would send me links to websites he thought were cool, except I don’t think he was sending those links right. When I would click to open them, they would take me to a page that was always in German. I don’t think he knew German—so to this day—I am still puzzled on what it was actually supposed to be.
The most humorous stories I remember about him were on our vacations to Florida. About 3 years ago, he walked out to the ocean in tennis shoes and then continued walking right into the ocean… with his tennis shoes on.
Everyone looked at each other trying to figure it why. Finally, I asked, “Pipaw, why, for the love of everything good, are you wearing tennis shoes in the ocean?”
Apparently, he had these orthopedic shoes that kept his feet from hurting. But these were also the only pair of shoes he brought… so basically he wore the same pair of wet shoes for two weeks straight. I made so much fun of him, and the next year when we went, he came up to me, and said, “Gracer, I learned a lot last year from you and I’ve brought a second pair of shoes this time.”
I wanted to respond back with, “Even a rocket scientist would have figured that out.” But, well, he was one.
The same year he went out shopping for a tee-shirt in Florida. When he got back to the house, he was so excited and gave us a little fashion show. He comes out in this shirt and we’re all trying to be nice. It was 10 sizes to small, not to mention, how awful it looked. That’s when my mother walks in and goes, “Roy, wasn’t that shirt in the women’s section?”
Needless to say, he returned the shirt.
Last week, I had the opportunity to go and say goodbye. I got to hold his hand and tell him I loved him. I wish with all my heart that it didn’t have to end that way. That he didn’t have to die at all.
It is these times in my life that I want to question God. I want to scream until my voice goes hoarse.
Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you know I can’t handle this? And His answer comes back in a simple whisper.
Don’t you know that I can handle this?
And it’s so hard to let Him handle my grandfather’s death. I want to hold on. My heart bleeds, and I cry. All I can see are the shattered pieces around me.
I have found that God put me in a world I can’t handle. A confusing world. A world that seeks to destroy. A world that has no hope. Yet, Jesus tells me there is a hope. He told me it would not be easy and I said, “I still want you.”
When life hits me with a truck, and my body aches. When I can’t stop crying, and I feel like I can’t take one more step… Jesus reminds me of what He did for me. He understands my pain. He knows what I’m going through. He wants me to cry on His shoulder and wants to comfort me. Because He loves me. Jesus loves me.
He will give me what I can’t handle. What I can’t comprehend. What I can’t control. But one thing remains.
His love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out on me.
And it’s up to me on what I do with that.
I don’t want to deal with the fact that I lost a wonderful grandparent this week.
In fact, I don’t want to remember most of this past week. But is that what Jesus wants from me?
Does He want me to try and forget my pain only to fall deeper into it?
He says, “You can keep trying to handle it yourself, but it would be a whole lot easier for you to just give it all to me.”
It’s up to me, and I want Jesus. I want Him to take my tears and turn them into something that takes the tears off another person’s eyes. I want Him to use me. I don’t want to go through trials in life without purpose. What kind of life is that? To live without joy? A miserable one.
So I give my trials to Him because there is no good in holding onto them. There is no good in keeping them tucked in the back of my head. I have to let Him show me the Joy in the midst of my misery.
I may not know why God is making me hike up a mountain, and maybe I will never know. However, I do know that it doesn’t matter. All that matters is whether I am giving my all to Jesus, not only in the good times, but also in the bad and the worst.
The last couple months have been some of the worst. However, I don’t believe PiPaw would want us to remember him as he ended his life. He wants to remember the man he was.
• A man who would buy a woman’s shirt without knowing it.
• A man who would buy desserts and consider it lunch.
• A man who would find special gifts to give his grandchildren. • A man who loved his wife and family.
• A man who loved life, despite it’s struggles.
It is in the worst times, I am clinging to Jesus. If Pipaw could come back today and could give us a final piece of advice…
- I don’t believe it would be that he loved us.
- I don’t think it would be how to become a millionaire.
- I don’t think he would say that it matters what college you went to or whether you were a rocket scientist or an artist.
- I think he would say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one goes to the Father except through Jesus.
- I think he would quote C.S. Lewis in saying, “There are far better things in Heaven then we can leave behind.”
- I think he would say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- And finally, I think he would tell us that in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.
My grandfather was a great man and no one will be able to replace his presence in my life. I have not been able to imagine a world without him and I still can’t. But I realized that I don’t have to. Although he is gone, he is still alive in our memories and in our hearts, and no on can take that away from us.
We have loved and lost, but I know God will use this, and the pain, and sorrow we are all experiencing for something that is greater then anyone could ever imagine.
When I come to the end of the day,
And the sun has set for me.
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long,
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love we once shared—
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone.
It’s all part of the maker’s plan.
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart.
Go to the friends we know.
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds—
Miss me, but let me go.
Pipaw, you may be gone from our sight, but you will never be gone from our hearts.
Even a rocket scientist can understand that.