Part Six

A Story Saved by Grace

Family slowly started trickling out of the room. Except for the tears it was very silent. Somehow I had about two minutes alone in the room with Bud. They were on their way to the house to get his body. I kissed his forehead. I held on to his arm. I looked at him. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of him. He was gone. All the things I’ll miss. I will miss the way he smiled. He would get this almost kid like grin. I will miss his company. I will miss his many stories. I will miss all his loving aggravation of the kids. I will miss seeing his growth and maturation with his love for God. So many things I will miss about him.

Men showed up to take his body. I knew the very essence of Bud was not here anymore. Just his body remained. In actuality Bud was in the presence of God. Still, seeing the body taken away was hard. It didn’t seem like it was happening. All of this happened so fast.

The family slowly started to leave. Ashley, Donna, and I were all who remained. How would we ever sleep that night? It was pretty silent between the three of us. My mind was a roller coaster of emotion. One second I was praising God for saving Bud’s life, the next I was sobbing at the reality that he was gone, quickly followed by being so grateful towards Jesus, then back to just simply missing Bud. Back and forth back and forth my internal emotional thoughts went.

The next few days went quick. A lot happened. Funeral plans were set up, arrangements were made, visitors stopped by, etc… Ashley and I gathered pictures of Bud together for some picture decorations that would be set up at the church. It was great to be able to see old pictures of Bud, many of which I’d never seen before. Certain pictures would just make us fill with laughter. So many older pictures of Bud around the time when Ashley was just a baby made me burst out in laughter, followed by tears from missing him. A lot of the older pictures had Bud with fifty pounds of facial hair, short shorts, and a cut off t-shirt… If only I had seen these pictures when he was alive…I really would have got on him about it.

The funeral was held on a Monday. So many people showed up. I met a lot of people, and heard so many stories about Bud. It was on this day I was flooded with emotions from the reality of grace again. Person after person talked about how good of a person Bud was. But I knew that wasn’t enough. It doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. You can be a world known and loved billionaire, give all your money away to the poor, and still not do enough to earn your way to God. That’s because, no matter what you do, no matter how good you are, you don’t deserve God. Every single one of us are sinful. It is the very nature of us. If you are experiencing suffering be careful to think of yourself as innocent. You are not. No one is. When someone dies, if God were to ask, “Why should I let you be in My presence?” the answer will not be because you were an amazing person. The answer will not be because of anything you did. It will be because of what Jesus did- atoning for our sins, through His blood and justifying us by faith. We will stand before God hopeless and helpless; He paid the price for us through the suffering of Jesus.

This is our story. Brothers and sisters, united as one family under our heavenly father. SAVED BY GRACE! Bud has a story of how he was saved by grace. I have a story of how I was saved my grace. All those who trust and follow Jesus as their Lord have a story of grace!

Bud was saved late August 2013. He died on February 12th 2014. That’s six months. If Bud died seven months earlier he would never have known the grace of God. I do not know if the unexpected mass is what finally led Bud to open his eyes towards Christ’s invitation. I do know this though, If cancer is what ultimately made Bud fall in love with Jesus then I am so thankful for it. I am so thankful we have a powerful God that can seek people out, even in times of despair and pain.

Over and over as I listened to people talk about Bud this is what I was thinking. Thank you God, Thank you! Thank you for saving Bud’s life!

I read the hymn below and I picture Bud, saved by grace, justified before God, telling his story face to face. How beautiful, how great! One day I will join him in the eternal worship of our King.

Some Day the Silver Cord Will Break
Fanny Crosby

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing,
But, O, the joy when I awake
Within the palace of the King.
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be,
But this I know, my All in All
Has now a place in heaven for me.
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story saved by grace.

Some day, when fades the golden sun
Beneath the rosy-tinted West,
My blessed Lord will say, “Well done!”
And I shall enter into rest.
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story saved by grace.

Some day— till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp all trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Saviour opes the gate,
My soul to Him may take its flight.
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story saved by grace.

Authentic Assurance

*While proofreading this section I feel I completely failed in what my original intent was for this part. I would like to suggest two resources to read regarding assurance. The first is an article written by John MacArthur. The second is an excellent article by J.D. Greear.
Take a few minutes to read them over- they are worth the time.

It still hurts. I still miss him. I suspect that will always be the case. It’s coming up on 7 months since I last saw Bud. It feels like an eternity. I feel a satisfactory feeling of peace knowing where Bud is right now. Most days I am able to reflect on that and I feel so thankful. Other days a wave of emotion will hit me out of the blue, and I’ll find myself crying from missing my friend.

Just a few weeks ago I was mowing the lawn. I had this bright idea of listening to music from my phone to make it seem quicker and not as boring. John Mcmillan’s “How He Loves Us” began playing. This song has a history with me. I listened to it hundreds of times at the time of Bud’s death. By the end, when the final few words were sung- I was bawling.

Well, I thought about You the day
Stephen died and You met me
Between my breaking
I know that I still love You
God, despite the agony

They want to tell me You’re cruel
But if Stephen could sing
He’d say it’s not true, ’cause

‘Cause He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

Yeah, He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

I’m not aware if any neighbors were outside or not. If they were, I’m sure they had a strange talking point with his or her spouse that night. Seeing a giant man on a riding mower, singing loud, and crying, all at the same time- it definitely would be something you don’t see every day.

I want to spend some time explaining something. Yes, I am sad from missing Bud. Some days are better than others. I am sad from missing him because he was a big part of my life. I am, however, far more joyful than sad. I feel so much joy because of the relationship Bud had with Christ. I have assurance of where he is. I have real, authentic, biblical assurance- not Hollywood Christianity assurance.

In the majority of grieving I have seen for Bud I have noticed it contains artificial assurance. People with artificial assurance will often say things like, “Well I’m sure Bud is in a better place watching us right now,” or “Wow, I can feel Bud’s presence here right now.” Some people will describe Bud in heaven, “I bet he is surrounded by hot rods, has a big yard, and is waiting for us to all get there…”

Bud is in the presence of God. The presence of God! I do not think he is thinking about fleshly, materialistic, meaningless possessions right now! He is not an angel or spirit floating around right now. He is in the presence of our Lord!

Just about everyone uses heaven as a means for comfort. Many people that claim to be Christians will reach completely unbiblical conclusions of heaven, or life after death. These people often make heaven about the pleasure of the person that died. This is not heaven. Death is a reward. It is a release from our sinful life. And in death- we get God. The very presence of God! People that truly know Jesus know the true beauty and reality of where Bud is right now. We have authentic, real, assurance based on the sovereignty of God. Now this fact will provide us comfort, but it is the reality that provides comfort- not the emotion. What I mean by that is people force false conclusions only as a means to provide earthly or fleshly comfort. Doing this actually diminishes the true beauty of the picture.

I have authentic assurance, and it is so peaceful to know. I don’t have to worry about Bud. I miss him, but I highly doubt he is thinking about us right now. Why? Because he is in the presence of God. That alone is completely incomprehensible to us right now. We cannot imagine the full beauty and glory to come.

All throughout the Bible we see confidence in assurance of Christ- even in situations of pain and suffering.

2 Corinthians 4: 16-17
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

Beyond all comparison. We cannot comprehend. C.S. Lewis writes: “The letter and spirit of scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternatives either of bodies which are hardly recognizable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer ‘No,’ he might regard [the] absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.”

We have assurance through God’s sovereignty. We realize it is not about us- it’s all about God. That is our ultimate form of assurance. It isn’t about us comforting ourselves after death with off based statements geared from and towards nominal Christians. It’s about our complete surrender and devotion to a sovereign God that we trust wholeheartedly. In the middle of all the pain we can trust Him. We can trust Him because we know his strength, power, peace, grace, and promises. We know He has already won; God has conquered and defeated death. We don’t need artificial assurance- We have assurance from God Himself. All afflictions for Christians are temporary. The coming glory is infinite and eternal.

Hebrews 12:3-11
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:
My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or faint when you are reproved by Him,
for the Lord disciplines the one He loves
and punishes every son He receives.
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Receive His discipline, rejoice in His love. It is painful, yet it is good and will yield the fruit of peace. By the end of Hebrews we need to ask ourselves, do we want to be distant from Jesus in a life of comfort or do we embrace the cross and have a far greater and deeper personal relationship? The author is asking if we really want to be where Jesus is. Suffering is essential to the mission of the gospel, and it is worth it. With our authentic assurance we can withstand suffering because we know it draws us closer to our creator, and we know we have assurance of the glory to come.

Ephesians 1:3-14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.