On Saturday, surrounded by his family, Loren Gray passed away at the age of 88. I had known my wife’s Grandpa for 11 years or so and was honored to be asked to share a memory at his graveside service. That memorial is what I would like to share with you this week.
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“Taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8
Papaw Great (how my kids knew Loren Gray), loved to taste good food. Whether it was coconut cream pie or chocolate covered peanuts made by his wife Ann, cakes or cookies from the grandkids, or the annual trip to Baskin Robbins with his granddaughter Leah, it was clear that Papaw Great had a sweet tooth. And anytime there was a chance for the family to get together, there was an abundance of tasty food, some from his garden and some made by various family members. We were always ‘tasting’ and ‘seeing’ that the Lord was indeed good.
But beyond that, everyone who came in contact with Papaw Great, tasted how good the Lord was by his kindness, his gentleness and his love. This verse alone is a testament to the patriarch of the family, but Psalm 34 doesn’t end with verse 8. The very next verse continues painting a lasting portrait.
“Fear the Lord, you His holy people. For those who fear Him, lack nothing.”
Just looking around at the hundreds that came to his viewing and funeral service could see Papaw Great lacked nothing. And no man that I have ever met feared the Lord more than Loren. He had an amazing awe and reverence that I hope to employ deeper in my journey with Christ.
Verse 17 continues the walk down memory lane.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.”
How many times did Papaw Great cry out to our God? And how many times did God listen because His servant was righteous. Not perfect, but forgiven and growing closer to his Father every day. How many times did he cry out for us? For our children? God heard his cries and now Papaw Great doesn’t have to cry out because He can talk face to face with His Father in Heaven.
We are happy because we know he is home, in Heaven.
But we’re sad because we are still here.
It was said during the funeral that Papaw Great’s number 1 goal in life was to get to Heaven and that was always his focus. While we’re still here, that needs to be our focus as well.
It’s hard saying goodbye, but our God is so faithful as we mourn this loss in our lives. In the very next verse He reminds us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
As we say goodbye, knowing that Papaw Great is Heaven because he repented of his sins, was baptized and followed Jesus, we can allow God to reach down from Heaven and comfort us.
It truly is well with my soul.