|My grandparents holding my mother|
On January 25, 2013, my grandfather, Roger Hightower passed away. He was 86 years old and had spent the last several years of his life struggling with a failing mind and a failing body. But on that Friday morning all the problems of this life died with that old body as he entered fully into eternal life. Revelation 21:3-4 helps us picture the new life he is enjoying in his new body.
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
I am confident that my grandfather is experiencing this life now. I know this because he loved God. My grandfather had a deep and meaningful relationship with God. This relationship started when he realized that he needed forgiveness and that God would be faithful and just to forgive. In my grandfather’s memoirs he records:
I can’t remember the exact day and date of my conversion, but I do remember the place, and that it happened. It was at the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Owosso, Michigan. The preacher was Rev. Paul F. Elliot, Sr. (who was a fiery preacher) It happened on a Sunday night. Elmorse and I went to the altar in the night service. I think that I was about 5 or 6 years old at the time. I know the Lord did something in my heart at that time. I haven’t ever had any desire to rebel against the Lord at any time until now. I know that I haven’t always been without fault, but I do know that my heart has always wanted to obey the Lord and do just what He wanted me to do. In my childish mind, I went to the altar many times after that because I didn’t understand what the whole Christian life was all about. I didn’t understand that as 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. I thought that any sin separated us immediately from the Lord and that we had to begin all over again. I have been so thankful for that verse as it gives me hope that I can make heaven my eternal home. Isn’t the Lord good….? As of this writing (March 11, 2000), I am well into my 73rd year and the Lord has kept me all these years. I have gone too far to turn back now, I am planning on seeing my loved ones who have gone on before and making heaven my home.
When you bury a loved one, it is an immense blessing to have words like this to cling to. My grandfather was confident both in his need for mercy and in God’s eagerness to show mercy. It is this faith in the abundant love and mercy of God, demonstrated and secured by the death of his own Son, that has secured my grandfather’s eternal destiny.
Each of us must experience death. First we see the death of those we know and love. Eventually, it will be our turn, and we will follow them into the grave. My prayer is that we will not waste the deaths of our loved ones by failing to prepare for our own. Instead, like my grandfather, we must confess our sins and place our trust in the love and mercy of the God who is so eager to forgive us and welcome us into his kingdom.
The funeral itself is too long to add to YouTube. However I did extract the portion where I was allowed to share some of how I was blessed by the life and death of my grandfather. I will include that video below.