I wrote this for the church newsletter in February of 2002 as we prepared for Lent. I hope you enjoy it.
There’s no feeling like waiting for the phone to ring, knowing it’s probably going to be news that a loved one has died. I’ve waited for that call most of February. My step-grandfather, Les, has been in the hospital with serious heart problems, and doctors have spoken that heartbreaking phrase: “There’s nothing we can do.”
Les is a great guy, one of the sweetest and most humble people I know. When we have dinner at their house, he is always pushing food on us (“C’mon, Kory, don’t you want more mashed potatoes?”) and his generosity is inspiring. Although he and my grandmother have only been married about a decade, we’ve all adopted him as our grandfather. But he’s also in his upper 80s, and his health has been slowly going downhill for years. So he and my grandmother have been suffering through the agonizing wait for Les’ death.
Except, Les’s body hasn’t cooperated. Every time it looks like the end is near, something happens inside him, and he bounces back. I’ve been told three times now over the last few years that “This is it,” only to hear a day later that he’s feeling better. This time, I thought for sure his life was ending. Doctors said he definitely wouldn’t leave the hospital. He was released yesterday. What a feeling he must have, to be released after being given a death sentence.
When you think about it, we’ve all been given a death sentence. Our mortality assures us that at some point, our bodies will give out and we will no longer be alive. The season of Lent is a powerful reminder of that. The stark reality is that from dust we have come, and to dust we shall return.
In the midst of our mortality, someone has signed our release form. Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that we would be released from mortality and given eternal life in God’s kingdom. With his broken body and shed blood, Jesus has nullified the phrase, “There’s nothing we can do.” Because it’s already been done. Jesus has conquered death for us, so that our death will not be the end. In this season of Lent, as I wait for a phone call, I thank God for the gift of Les’ life, and for the gift of Jesus Christ.
Les died in August of 2002, and I was honored to do his funeral service.