So the last 10 days have been tough. On August 12th my Paw Paw went to Heaven. He has had many health issues for a while now and in his last days he had been crying out to be with Jesus. Though it hurts to lose him, we are blessed to know he is no longer in the great pain he was in here on earth & that he is happy in the presence Jesus. Oh the glory he is seeing right now!
In preparation for the funeral, I spent many hours with my cousin and uncle going through photos, walking down memory lane, hearing stories that correlate to the photos we were seeing. Recalling the great things he did, trips he took us on with Grandma, all the fun we had … It was a sweet time of family togetherness.
The funeral was wonderfully done, it certainly represented Paw Paw well, many family & friends came. Some people that came I haven’t seen in years, even as far back as about 20 years ago! What a testimony to how big his heart was to see people from all over. My Paw Paw was certainly one of a kind. He loved his Blue Bell, Diet Mountain Dew, wanted meat & potatoes for every meal with his tea of course, he loved to read the paper, especially the comics, he loved his soap operas, playing solitaire on the computer, he loved sports, he loved his country and he loved the state of Texas, but most importantly, he loved his family & he loved Jesus more.
Even though we knew the end would be near for Paw Paw, it does not lessen the pain. I miss him every day. If you had told me a year or 2 ago I was going to lose my husband and my Paw Paw within less than 5 months of each other, I don’t think I would have believed you. 2017 has been a very rough year for my family.
On top of it all, one of my closest friends who has been there faithfully to support my family over the last year plus is moving far away. So much loss! There are many moments where I struggle with all this change & loss, it’s a lot to take in all at once. Anyone without Jesus in their heart might feel as if there was no hope for the year (or life for that matter), like things could never get better. I choose not to look on life this way, because I know my God is carrying me through these tough times & there are lessons He wants me to see. The closeness I have felt with God this year has been like no other & I cherish the time and lessons He has taught me.
Jeremiah 29:11 is an extremely popular verse, you see it all over t-shirts, signs, it is often quoted & while it is a great verse, many people tend to forget the context in which it was written, or maybe not even know it at all. Often times is used for people to comfort themselves that things will for sure get better and prosperity will come their way. Jeremiah 29:11 is apart of the letter to the Israelites in exile, verse 1 of chapter 29 addresses surviving elders of the exiles, the priests, the prophets & all the people Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. To sum up verses 4-9; God told the Israelites in Babylon that they were to live there for a time, to make it their home, have families, not to let their numbers decrease & to wait. Their time was coming, but this wasn’t it. Can you imagine being the elders longing to see the Promise Land? Some of them would never see it!
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
Now we get to one of the most popular verses in all of the Bible: 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This verse has a completely different meaning than I think many see it to say. This is not an “ask and you will get it now” prosperity gospel verse (prosperity gospel is a false gospel in case you didn’t know). Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise that God’s people would ONE DAY be delivered to their Promise Land, but it would not come soon. I don’t know the plans God has for me & my life, I do know my eternity in Heaven will be filled with God’s Glory, but my earthly life, I do not know what holds. This does not promise me prosperity, but does not give me a pass to let go of hope that good might come to me & this does not excuse me to have a bad attitude in the face of trials. This tells me, I must keep the faith and recognize that God is ALWAYS with me & I will ALWAYS have Him to lean on in times of trials & that one day (even if it is in Heaven), God will give me great things.
The Christian life is not about what will God give me, it is about giving EVERYTHING to God. In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said to Simon Peter & Andrew: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”, they were called to drop everything, give up everything they owned & follow Jesus. In the modern world, with the technology we have, we do not have to give up all of our earthly possessions in order to follow Christ (although some do get that specific calling), but if we are holding on to earthly things too tightly, they become our gods. Is your heart willing to give up everything you own to follow God? Are you as Christians telling others about Christ regularly?
My Paw Paw loved the Lord & people knew it. He loved to sing the hymns & he made sure his family knew he loved & knew Jesus. There is no doubt for anyone of where he is spending his eternity. Do you know where you will spend your eternity? If you have any questions, please reach out! If not to me, to someone who you know is a follower of Christ.