“Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special.” — 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5, The Message
We lost my Daddy on 1 January this year.
He and my Mom had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my youngest brother and his wife and their daughters, and I am pretty sure that my Baby Sis and her family made it there as well.
In our family we did not have a set routine to celebrate Thanksgiving. So, each year we all did our own things, sometimes some of us connecting in various ways at various times.
A few scant days after, he took ill. It happened horribly fast, no time to adjust at each step of decline, before another step overtook us.
We are all walking with a limp now, I guess you could say. Walking it out, figuring it out, praying it out, talking it out, loving it out, faithing it out, sometimes crying it out.
Questions. So many questions. Memories. Unaccomplished wishes. Things to hold onto that make you feel close to him. Like he can live on in your lives and be instilled in your family dna.
Beyond the thousand little cuts where you can’t hug him, can’t introduce him to great grandkids, can’t text him, can’t call him, or drive the backroads to visit him, beyond all this hangs the question, ‘What’s he experiencing? What’s Heaven like for him right now? What is he doing?’
I don’t doubt it’s beyond our ability to conceive. Far, far richer, far sweeter, far deeper. But, I want to know. And I feel the Lord encouraging the question. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. — Proverbs 25:2
Yesterday afternoon, all the way through last night, my thoughts and pondering peaked in this regard. Jesus taught during His time on earth, through the rabbinical style of asking questions, and still does today.
I found myself the last week or so wondering if my Father in law had met up with Daddy yet, for a cup of coffee and ‘catching up’, welcoming him to the place. We lost my Father in law in December 2014. I think of him every day. Miss him very much. See him in his son, my Batman, everyday.
Then I realized likely my Granddaddy would be at that table for coffee. We lost him in late March of 1983. I picture the men on the outside of a wooden building, under an overhang, as to a porch on an old style of a General Store.
I picture them smiling, talking, sipping, contemplating. The question came ‘Do you really think so?’ Yeah, I really kinda do. ‘Ok. Can you think of what you know from The Word that can help support that?’
I can. God is very relational. He created us for relationship with Him. He designed us not only in His image to have relationships, but also that we need one another, and each have different parts and pieces that only work best in collaboration with each other. The Church (Body of believers) is designed for us to work and be in relationship with each other. He designed us so that some friends are like family and some family are like friends. Yeah, I think that continues at a higher level in Heaven.
He let me steep in that picture for a little while and then took me around the table to what they might be saying:
My FIL, (sweet smile he had when he’s tickled): “I tell ya, I never imagined how much I would like it here. How welcome I would be. How much at home I would feel. I had no idea how good this would be!”
My Daddy, with eyes in wonder: “It’s more than everything I ever dreamed! I did not realize or expect to be so near to the Father and His Son, to be so near to Jesus, to see where all the prayers are kept! It’s absolutely overwhelming! It makes all the hell seem trivial in comparison to this!”
My GrandDaddy, looking at his coffee cup, kinda smiling: “You boys haven’t seen the half of it! Wait until you see what they’re working on!”
“Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.
When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, “He saved others. Let’s see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!”
The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: “So you’re King of the Jews! Save yourself!”
Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”
But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
43 He said, “Don’t worry, I will. TODAY you will join me in PARADISE.” — Luke 23:32-43, KJV