On March 22, 2014 my grandfather, Popop, left this earth to join Jesus in heaven. He was 82 years old–a devoted husband of 60 years, a loving father to my mother, an incredible grandpa to me, and a caring great-grandfather to my children. I already miss you so much, Popop, and I can’t wait for the day we are reunited again in our forever home.
Up until this year I had all four of my grandparents. I am very lucky. Three months ago, a week before Christmas, my Grandpa Chuck passed away. Then, last week, we got word that Popop was quite ill and that the end was likely nearing. He passed away yesterday at his home in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by family. He was dearly loved and will be greatly missed by all of us.
This whole week I’ve been thinking a lot about Popop–who he was as a man and what he meant to me. We shared lots of amazing moments together throughout my life, and I will always hold those memories dear. Memories of us walking through the deserts of Arizona and the beaches of California and the forests of Washington together. Memories of family gatherings. Memories of Christmases, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Feasters (a holiday that we created–perhaps the most wonderful holiday that ever was created). Memories of summers spent with my grandparents at the lighthouse in Brown’s Point. Memories of afternoons spent searching for tadpoles in the creek. Memories of Popop rooting on the Nebraska Corn Huskers and ASU football like it was his mission in life. Memories of him dancing at my wedding. Memories of him drinking Mountain Dew (perhaps the best beverage that ever was created). Memories of how he always knew how to make me laugh. And memories of him gently holding my newborn sons. Memories. Lots of beautiful, wonderful memories.
As I’ve been thinking about Popop, I’ve also been praying for him. It’s been a week of ceaseless prayer, really. My mom called me a few days ago and shared with me a passage from 2 Corinthians that came up in her devotional this week and it really stuck with me. It reads:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 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. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5
One of my favorite things to do in moments like this is to go for a “prayer run”–just go out in nature by myself, run, pray, and listen. I went on a prayer run on Saturday morning, just a few hours before I got the news that Popop had passed away. As I was running and praying and meditating on this passage from 2 Corinthians, I rounded the corner and saw this: Blackrock Castle.
A thought came to me. This earth and everything in it is fleeting. The Bible tells us that our body is merely a tent–not a permanent structure, but something that is intended to be set up, disassembled, and moved. But if our tent is destroyed–as Popop’s was this weekend–we are not to lose heart. We are not to be sad over a lost tent, because God has a building for us. His intention when He created us was not that we would spend eternity wandering around like transient nomads in tents, but that at some point we would come home to the unshakable building he is creating for us in heaven. He doesn’t want us living under canvas forever–his plans for us are better than that. No, God is creating a castle for us. Not a tent, a castle. A beautiful home that will last the test of time. So, even though I am mourning the loss of my dear Popop, I can be joyful that his tent–weathered and worn–has been cast aside for a heavenly castle. That eternity will be an extraoridnary place, even more so because of the addition of Popop’s castle.
I miss you, Popop, and I will always love you. From now until eternity.