This Good Friday my wife’s grandfather, known affectionally to all of us as Papaw, passed away. His death was something that everyone knew was coming, even if the end always comes quicker than you are ready for. Over the past couple of weeks Papaw’s deteriorating condition has had me making frequent meandering trips down memory lane to my grandparents, their lives, and their deaths.
In my mind here is how things went in the presence of God on Friday. Not long after his arrival Papaw was soon approached by four people he had never met before. One of them, probably the lady with the red hair, spoke up and said, “You don’t know us, but tell us about our grandchildren that we haven’t met yet.” As only Papaw could, with a little bit of a drawl, he would start with, “Well, they’re all three darlin’s, as far as that goes.” From there the five would sit down and he’d tell them everything he knew about the great-grandchildren shared by the quintet. They’d laugh a lot. Occasionally someone would point a finger and say, “Sounds just like you!” More than once somebody would proclaim, “Well, they didn’t get that from me.”
Whether this conversation really happened or not is doubtful. It is probably just a product of my imagination. Truthfully, the theology is probably a little sketchy, and I clearly have no idea what the Bible refers to as “being absent from the body, and being present with the Lord” looks like. What I do know is that the conversation in my mind that occurs between five saints is based on the simple truth of Easter represented by one word I put in my grandmother’s mouth, “Yet.” Two thousand years ago on a bright morning there was an earthquake, a stone rolled way, and Jesus Christ stepped out of the tomb meant to be his final resting place. Together Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the promise of God that there is more to come, even for those in the grave. Burial plots, whether in Texas or Jerusalem, are not final destinations. Instead, burials signify the end of the first portion of a trip, and the punching of a ticket on the next round-trip leg of the journey.
That's the promise of Easter.