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The state of country music as it is currently is crap (country + rap = crap). I am giving a very disapproving look to you, Jason Aldean and also you, Luke Bryan, for allowing country artists to think that they can start rapping in their songs and have it be ok. It is NOT ok.
That being said, as things started to go south for country music, Kenny Chesney had a fairly catchy song, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven. The gist of the song is that Kenny is having a conversation with his preacher, in which, his preacher tells him to get his act together and start living for the Lord so Kenny can be sure he will go to Heaven. While dear old Kenny says he is excited about Heaven and seeing the gold streets, wearing a halo and all that jazz, he tells the preacher that he is having way to much fun on Earth and that God will have to get in line behind the whiskey and women. “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” Well isn’t that the truth, Kenny.
My husband and I read a book last year called You and Me Forever by Francis Chan. The book is life changing and it is free (yeah for real). You can download the You and Me Forever app and listen to the audio book on your phone, again for free. If you purchase a hard copy of the book, the proceeds go a foundation which aims to end poverty in East Africa. Cool stuff.
The book focuses on how to use your marriage to impact your eternal life. It is by no means a book on how to have a great marriage. It is a book that shares the truth about how marriage is just another tool that God has given us as a way to advance his Kingdom. You can be stronger together than apart, but don’t let you marriage or even your family become the primary focus. In one of the chapters, Chan makes a few remarks that relate to Kenny’s song.
“I don’t have any statistics to prove this, but based on my experience, I’d say that at least 95% of American “Christians” would choose not to leave their families today if they were given the choice to be with Jesus. You can justify that all you want, but something is off. Paul recognized the value of staying on Earth to minister to the people around him, but his burning desire was to be with Jesus (Philippians 1:21-26). If you’d rather watch your kids grow up than see the face of your savior today, you don’t grasp the beauty of God. If you worry about what would happen to your children if you were gone, you don’t understand the providence of God. “
-Francis Chan, You and Me Forever
Powerful stuff, right? Convicting? It was for me. I don’t have kids yet, so I don’t know that I can totally understand what I would be giving up if I were given the choice to stay on Earth or go be with the Father in Heaven, but I would like to think I would jump at the chance to go to Heaven. But it is easy to say that when I don’t really think my time has yet come.
But what happens when it isn’t us who is leaving? My grandpa has been in and out of the hospital for the last year. He is a spunky guy who has aged well, but time catches up to all of us and his health is fading. He went back in the hospital this past week to prepare for potential heart surgery. Last night, he took a tumble out of his hospital bed during a very active dream (I love his vivid imagination, but he is apparently a very active dreamer and falls out of his bed fairly often). Falling out of a hospital bed when you are already weak, does not do good things for your health. The doctors have told us there is a chance he may not make it to the end of the month. It has all happened far too quick.
My mom (this is her dad who is ill) is having a really tough time with this. Who wouldn’t right? Nobody wants to lose someone that they love. But what if you take Chan’s statement above and look at it in light of watching a loved one go to heaven. Why wouldn’t we want them to go be with Jesus? Shouldn’t we be excited for them to actually come face to face to our creator? Shouldn’t we be packing their bags for them?
My grandpa is weak and frail here on Earth. He has to have special non-sticky band-aids used on him in the hospital because the adhesive is too tough for his skin and would pull the top layer off when removed. If he gets out of his hospital bed, he won’t be able to move without a wheelchair. He won’t be able to breathe on his own again for the rest of his Earthly life. He won’t ever again experience the whiskey and women fun that is keeping Kenny’s interest away from Heaven.
We weren’t made to stay on Earth forever. When my grandpa passes, my prayer is that he knows Christ and that he gets to meet our maker. When he gets to Heaven, he won’t have to use special band-aids, or any medical equipment at all. He will feel better than he has in his entire life. He will be free of the ailments that have bound him for so many years. And he will be so full of joy.
But we don’t want my grandpa to leave us because we love him. His kids and grandkids have never known life without him. What will we do without him? Won’t he miss getting to meet his great grandkids? While I am sure we would have all enjoyed getting to see my grandpa hold my first child, I can’t hardly put that life moment in the same ballpark as meeting God.
I am going to fully enjoy all of the time my grandpa has here with us on Earth. Whether it is a month or a week or 10 more years, I love time with him. But I don’t know if I am praying for God to give us more time with him on Earth, because I am excited for my grandpa to meet Jesus and to finally know what a life without pain is like.
To rephrase Chan “If you’d rather watch your grandpa grow old than have him see the face of his savior today, you don’t grasp the beauty of God.”
Here’s to my grandpa (who we fondly call ‘Pago’) and to learning to let go of our loved ones so they may experience the greatest chapter in their eternal lives.