I originally had this written with my last post, but that post was getting unbelievably long, so I wanted to save this topic for its own moment of thought. A lot of things have been hard this week, but the heaviest weight on my heart is not knowing where my father’s soul rests. My father’s death happened exactly the way I knew it would. Because he lived at home alone, and took such poor care of himself and shut himself off to most people, I feared he would one day be found dead in his home, and that’s exactly what happened. But I know he was miserable, and he had allowed his quality of life to wither away, so death should have come as a relief from pain.
But my heart is breaking because I fear that my father may not be with our Heavenly Father right now. And it absolutely breaks my heart. Not only did he suffer in life, but I’m afraid he is suffering in death. And I can’t look past that right now. I know different religions have different beliefs about one’s eternal destiny. Some believe in a waiting place, an opportunity for a second chance, until the final day of judgment when Christ returns. Some believe in Purgatory, which I honestly don’t fully understand, but I think is also a waiting-type period for further purification before one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Some don’t even believe in an eternal destiny, and believe that death on Earth is merely the end. Period.
I was taught that we have one chance, which is our life here on Earth to either choose Christ or not. I know my dad accepted Christ as his Savior many many years ago. Both his parents were pastors, who traveled around building and leading churches. I remember sitting in a church during my grandpapa’s funeral, listening to his life story and just being amazed at the ministry exemplified in his day to day life. But I’ve always wondered about people who accept Christ as young adults, and then their lives start going down a different path. I know God is a God of unfailing love and forgiveness, so does that mean that no matter what, we are still children of God? It seems like such a silly question, because we know we do not get into the Kingdom based on our works, but rather our faith. But, just a few weeks ago our pastor on Sunday taught from James 2, which lays out that faith without works is dead. So, yes, your faith saves you, but it is still considered an empty faith if it is not accompanied by works. Sigh. And because of this, my heart is heavy for my dad.
I don’t know my father’s fate. But I do know God forgives his children. Obviously, we will always fail. No matter how hard we try, we will always be broken and in need of God’s mercy. My uncle Jamie led my father’s memorial service yesterday, and it was beautiful. He spoke of God’s faithfulness and how no matter how imperfect we are, He never let’s go of His children. We fail time and time again, and even when we lose our way, God takes our hand and guides us if we let him. And this is my hope that I will hold onto for my dad, because I don’t know the depths of my dad’s heart. I don’t know if he had a moment of repentance, or how much he wrestled with God during his life. But regardless of all that, I just hope God truly never let him go, and that on Monday He welcomed my dad into his healing arms where there is no more pain.
Obviously, there’s a lot I don’t know. But what I DO know, is while I’m here on this Earth, I want to choose Christ, so that there’s no doubt when I leave this Earth, I will be welcomed into His presence. I want to hear those words, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
God’s all-encompassing peace will surround us if we let it. And I could go back and forth a million times over the course of my life on whether or not I’ll see my dad in Heaven. But one day I’ll know. And there will be no words to explain the joy I will feel to see his face, free from pain, standing with my Heavenly Father.
Daniel Benjamin Graves
October 18, 1957- March 7, 2011
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”