Why are we here?
Even as a writer, I so often find that words fail me. They fail to express the swarm of emotions that swirl around us in the ebbs and flows of this life. If you've been following us on social media, you've no doubt heard of the passing of my Grandpa Larson. Though he was a strong man, there's hardly a match for Alzheimers. One of the worst parts about the disease is that it's not the disease that kills you. It's a weird infection. Or a broken hip. Or phenomena. Or, in Grandpa's case, a brain bleed from a fall. It's as if the disease isn't even kind enough to take the person to rest and rather, lays in wait while the grasping perils of this world take their toll. There are no words to adequately describe what it's like to watch the person you know, and love to the depths of your soul, fade from view.
In many way's, Grandpa's death was a tender mercy from the Lord. I'm thankful that he remained in ‘good health' until the end of his days. He was never bound to a chair… or a bed. Many other's that also struggle with Alzheimers get to a place of complete debilitation before they pass. Grandpa never got there. His mind was completely gone, but he was still capable and saucy – just like he always was. Sure, he was frail, but he was still capable. For that I am grateful. The mental deterioration was excruciating to watch… the physical deterioration to a further capacity would have been equally challenging.
Many others in this world face immeasurable pain. The loss of a spouse. Of a child. Of a best friend. Pain that runs deep to your veins and sits on your chest like an elephant. Pain that makes it hard to breathe. To smile. To go about daily life when your body feels incapable of carrying on.
Of course, one expects to bury their grandparents. But that doesn't make it easier. Thirty one years this man has loved me and been a part of my daily life. He's fed me, and I've fed him, more times than I can count. We've laughed together. We've cried together. We've dreamed of farms together. We've rode horseback through the orchards together. We've baked together. We've talked… oh Lord, how we've talked. And we've loved – those around us and each other.
I don't weep for him. Truth be told, I am relieved his suffering has passed.
The Larson genes run strong.
I weep for myself, selfish as it may be. For the memories that will begin to gather dust in my mind without being replenished by new ones. For the meals and cups of coffee that will no longer be shared together. For the birthdays, holidays, and every day suppers that he won't be a part of. For my children, to whom he will be but a distant memory. How can we keep going on when going was something we did together?
And yet, I am not without hope. Because God has not left me there.
My parents, who along with my Uncle, faithfully cared for my Grandpa until his passing.
Naturally, at the end of it all, we ask ourselves: Why are we here? What is it all for? Where do we go when we die? These are natural questions to think about when someone we love dies. Is that it? Will we see each other again? Does it go on?
Through the ages, these hard questions have been answered many different ways. But by God's word I see all things, and death is no different. Which is exactly why I can have hope.
Why are we here? What is it all for? “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” – Westminster Confession of Faith
Where do we go when we die? “The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption: but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them: the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect of holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.” – Westminster Confession of Faith
Yes, my friends, it does go on. And for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, who gave his life for sinners that we may be found blameless as we stand judgement in front of a holy God, that is very good news. Let us celebrate!
My Grandpa did not die a wealthy man. In fact, there was nothing ‘refined' about him. He was a gentleman. A cowboy. A dancer. A upright man. But by ‘earthly standards', he was a poor man. He'd often shove the last few dollars from his pockets into mine for the dozen eggs or gallon of milk he'd drive up to the farm to grab. But by Heavenly standards, he was a rich man.
A man who knew that he was here for God's purpose. A man uniquely made in the image of God to use his skills, emotions, and able body to serve others.
As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, all else is vanity.
For if you die a wealthy man with gilded pockets, do you not still die?
And if you die giving in to all your desires, dreams, and self-serving ambitions, will you have ever found satisfaction and peace?
A celebration of life.
My Grandpa had peace. He knew exactly why he was here. He loved and he served without ceasing. He didn't chase rainbows for himself or seek to further his social standings – rather, he reflected Christ in that “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.”
May I never forget the magic that the Lord weaves through such a life.