Homegoing and homecoming

The homecoming? Well, I am back home after a week (last week, that is) which started with my dad’s sudden death. He had a massive coronary on the beach at the lake.

The homegoing? My dad’s. His whole life he was a believer in the Lord Christ and God. As he grew older that belief moved from a heritage and head knowledge to something he carried in his heart and spirit that transformed him.

He went home in his favorite place on earth, quickly and without pain. My grief is for me, not for him. I will miss him until that day of reunion.

One of my dearest friends, Christine, is a very gifted writer who knew my dad…knew the twinkle in his eye and knew that dad never met a stranger, only a friend waiting to be discovered. I want to share what she wrote for my family the day I told her he was called home. It made my cry, but the images are beautiful. (And, just so you understand as you read, my dad usually called me by my middle name, Joy 🙂

May you be blessed in some way as you read. And please, remember to share the important ‘I love you’s’, life can change so suddenly.

Thank you too, for your comments and e-mailed expressions of sympathy. This is an extraordinary community and my life is richer because of you.



… The ones left standing
have to cry all the tears
And replay all the memories,
good and bad from the years.
And we shoulder the weight
of the work left to be done

And the ones left standing carry on…

Ah yes, there are lots of tears to be shed. It is a great loss to lose a daddy, a grandfather, a husband, a friend. We who are left behind do need to cry all the tears. But we are not without hope! We have the truth written out for us in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

13 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know what happens to those who die. We don’t want you to be sad, as other people are. They don’t have any hope.

14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again. When he returns, many who believe in him will have died already. We believe that God will bring them back with Jesus.

15 That agrees with what the Lord has said. When the Lord comes, many of us will still be alive. We tell you that we will certainly not go up before those who have died.

16 The Lord himself will come down from heaven. We will hear a loud command. We will hear the voice of the leader of the angels. We will hear a blast from God’s trumpet. Many who believe in Christ will have died already. They will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them. We will be taken up in the clouds. We will meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with him forever.

18 So cheer each other up with these words of comfort.

I do not presume to know what it is like in heaven, or what our welcome will be like. However, this is how I imagine it could be.

There was nothing quite like looking out over the lake, calm and beautiful. The sun was shining. There were a few puffy clouds in the sky, just enough to contrast with the otherwise beautiful, flawless, brilliant blue. A slight breeze moved the leaves on the trees and brushed across his face gently. This was his favorite kind of breeze – one that seemed to be the same temperature as his body, that felt neither cool nor hot, instead seeming to be simply a gentle caress on his skin.

This was a perfect day, and he was in a perfect place. “Oh my God, thank you for this day!” He meant this not as a trite misuse of his Lord’s name, common though it was in society today. Instead he was whispering a prayer of thanks. Life was very good. He had a wonderful wife that loved him, in spite of his many flaws. Fifty years she had put up with him! They had grown, truly, to be one. What a gift she was from God.

He had two wonderful children. Ah, Joy had struggled with her health, but seemed to be on the mend now that her ticker had been operated on. And Tim – well, Tim had his own struggles, but all in all, he had to admit that his kids made mostly good choices, and he was as pleased with them as children as any father could be.

Closing his eyes he took another deep breath. This day – perfect. The sun. The breeze. The sparkles on the lake. The scents. He opened his eyes again, first following the sound of the birds on the shore, then looking once more over the water. He wanted to breathe it in deeply, to capture every perfect facet of this day so he could remember it forever. He closed his eyes once more, allowing the perfection to burn into his memory.

He opened his eyes – and was looking into the face of Jesus. His Lord looked nothing like the pictures he’d seen, but there was no mistaking the majesty, the holiness, the glory of his Lord and Savior. Momentarily he was confused … he had been by the lake …

Jesus reached out with both arms, took him into a giant hug, and chased all his confusion away.

”Welcome Home, my good and faithful servant, my son. You’ve come Home.”

He had to drop to his knees and worship. There was no other choice in that moment. This was the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords who spoke to him personally. He was truly Home.

He worshiped there forever, singing, shouting, speaking, kneeling in silence. Forever. Forever.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up he saw a man he’d never met before, had never seen before in life, but whom he knew immediately. This time it wasn’t because of his glory or majesty or holiness, but just because … he knew. He realized that from here on, he would always know. He would find out answers to things that were no longer questions. He would just know.

No introductions were necessary, as he knew and was known, perfectly. Still the other man spoke. “I’m Evert. Our daughters are good friends. I wanted to welcome you personally, and introduce you around to others who are up here.” With sparkling eyes Evert continued. “I am trying to introduce everyone to everyone. Good thing we have eternity for it – there are lots of people here to meet!”

Again, the introductions were not necessary, but were welcomed. There were family members – some gone from earth long before he’d even been born, others more recently taken Home. Over there, running toward him — that looked like … like his young son who had died so many years ago, now perfectly healed, laughing and dancing with pleasure at having his daddy finally with him, knowing they would never again be separated. Here was Cora, his daughter’s niece through marriage. Her face was alight with the joy of forever being in the presence of the living God.

Others were people he knew as public figures. There was Ruth Graham, who had gone Home only a few weeks before his arrival – forever ago. Standing next to her was Eddie Guerrero, of Smackdown! professional wrestling fame, a man who had quietly, behind the scenes, given clear witness of the Saving Grace that had brought him out of his addictions and promised him a place here. And … that was Peter, the gruff saint who became the rock on which Jesus had built his church. Oh, the people he would meet on these golden streets!

Always there was the sound of singing and worship. They were surrounded by angels of many types. No two were exactly alike, just as no two people were exactly alike. The angels had different duties to perform – if anything here could be called a duty. All things were done with joy, with the pleasure that came from simply being in the vicinity of God. Constantly there was movement around the throne of God Himself as angels and people took turns singing and worshipping Him. There were no clocks. There were no artificial means of telling “time” – the very word no longer had any meaning. They were here, Home, able to see and feel and breathe the God who had created them, the God who had redeemed them, the God who had sustained them, the God who made it possible for them to be Home.

Forever. Forever.

At some point in Forever – how can anyone pinpoint a “time” when “time” is no more? – Jesus came to him.

“Stand here with me. There’s someone I want you to welcome.”

And there was his lovely bride. He was able to see her now as Jesus Himself had seen her all those years, the perfect Bride of Christ – and, during all those 50 years on earth, his bride. She fell to her knees in worship. He fell to his knees, at one with her in worship. They stayed there forever. Forever.

He stood. She stood next to him. He held out his hand, and she put her hand in his. That was how it had been for so many years. That was how it was supposed to be, and would be, forever. His heart overflowed with joy and peace and contentment and praise.

He started to walk. She walked beside him. “Come with me,” he said. “There are so many people I want you to meet.”

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  • Paula  On August 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Julie – Chrisine’s writing is just beautiful – just beautiful. Please thank her for including Cora in the piece. It is exactly as I like to picture her – her face alight with joy!

    love you –

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