Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I am the resurrection and the life...

The life of an amazing man came to a close today. In the early hours of this morning, in the home that he had lived in for as long as I can remember, my father's father drew his last breath. The patriarch of the Bradley family passed from death to life. As I considered the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 this evening, I found that verse 4 had never meant so much to me as it does right now. “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” That image of mortality being swallowed up by life...what an amazing God we serve.

Leslie and I sat at the table after dinner tonight with the boys and talked about this passage, especially verse 8...being away from the body and home with the Lord. What great encouragement. My grandaddy served honorably in the Pacific in WWII as a Seabee, returned and served in the Texas Guard as an artilleryman (Redleg!) while working hard as a businessman to support his family well. He even helped put other men's sons through college when they had no other way. He typified the Greatest Generation. But what I will most remember about him is the love he showed. This became easier to see the older he got. Or maybe it was the older I got? He used to stand in the driveway and wave until we were out of sight, every time we left. It didn't matter that we might have plans to see him the next day. He was communicating love. As I moved through his house today, it wasn't the pictures of him that caught me off guard, but the many pictures of us with which he had surrounded himself. He showed love in the gentle way in which he encouraged us always and bragged about us incessantly.

My life has been relatively free of death. That's a surprising thing considering I was raised in the military and am a veteran myself. Although this isn't the first grandparent I have lost, it is the first one since I have had children of my own. Perhaps loving them has given me a perspective I didn't have before. Maybe I just had longer with my grandaddy than I had with other relatives that have passed away. But I will miss him. I will miss him in a way that I have rarely missed anyone in my relatively few 32 years.

As I backed out of their driveway this afternoon, I could not help but look up to where he always stood waving goodbye. It's the first of many times that he won't be there. But I will never forget. I will miss him so much. I now read Paul's words with a bit more pathos...“we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

As usual, I have also found some comfort in the prayers of the Book of Common Prayer. In the service "At the Time of Death" are a few thoughts/prayers that have meant alot to me today. I leave you with them...

"Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;
In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you;
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you;
In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.
May your rest be this day in peace,
and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God."

"Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant, George Ray Bradley. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Redeem him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen."

"Almighty God, our Father in heaven, before whom live all who die in the Lord: Receive our brother, George Ray Bradley, into the courts of your heavenly dwelling place. Let his heart and soul now ring out in joy to you, O Lord, the living God, and the God of those who live. This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen."

5 comments:

M. Jay Bennett said...

Matt, you have written an eloquent and touching tribute to your Granddaddy. But even more imporantly you have written to the honor and glory of your Granddaddy's gracious God.

My wife and I will share in you're mourning and reoice in our gracious God with you in prayer tonight.

Solus Christus,

Jay

Thom said...

Matt, So sorry to hear about your Grandfather's passing. And yet, what a testimony he left behind him, and to what glory has he gone.

Julie said...

Jay & Thom have said it well, so I simply add that my thoughts and prayers are with you, Leslie, and family at this time.

Thanks for sharing.

Lynn-nore said...

Hi Matt,

I just now read of your granddad's passing. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Like you, I have made it fairly far in life without mourning the loss of many who have been dear to me. Both my grandmothers are still living and I know that it will be hard to say goodbye when the time comes. Your words here are a reminder of the truth for the Christian -- that our hope is truly found beyond the grave.

Meanwhile, mourning is still missing and continuing life differently than before. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you as you and your family adjust to this new reality without your grandfather. It appears you are already finding a new significance to the memories that you have of him. For Ian and Xavier that will be priceless.

God Bless. ~Lynn-nore

Matt said...

Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.