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On Singing and Dying

Josh McPherson | December 4, 2013
Reading time: about 3 minutes
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4 years ago this night, I sat around the bed of my grandpa with my brother and my dad. Grandpa was dying. We were singing. Together, we were all walking him Home. 

We sang his favorite hymns; he smiled slightly and whispered the words along with us, every once in a while mustering up the strength to sing out a note or two. 

We read passages of Scripture; he'd close his eyes as a tear rolled down his peaceful face. 

His body was dying, but his spirit was rejoicing. You could see it in his face. These songs, the words, the truths...about grace, faith, heaven...not only were they comforting, they were about to become reality. 

There was no fear, no sorrow, no regrets among us. Only joy and overwhelming gratefulness for a Savior's mighty grace to a man's wild life well lived. 

The gospel is sweetest when death is closest; none sweeter than when a loved one has one foot in this world and one foot in the next, stepping over the precipice of the Great Dark Abyss on the bridge of costly grace. 

And friends, there is no more precious thing than to on your death bed lie, surrounded by those who respected you most precisely because they knew you best. 

To die in the presence of sons, daughters, and grandchildren, all thanking Jesus for the life you lived, is a goal worth striving for. 

Grandpa Vernon and family

So thanks grandpa, for living life with the top down and the pedal stomped. For taking risks in business and giving generously from the wealth you made. For building every house you lived in, including the one I grew up in. For shooting elk on the run and making deals on the fly. For praying for your family every morning and tearing up quickly when talking about King Jesus. For being a man of unwavering principles, and for scooping piles of maple nut ice cream on top of maple bars with a wink when grandma wasn't looking. For whistling constantly and driving everywhere like a bat out of hades. For making us laugh until we cried with your crazy stories and wild antics. 

There is no question, you were "one in a million". I miss you often these days. I miss hearing your laugh. I miss steak for lunch and cabbage salad. I miss your vibrant whistle and the sound of you singing by yourself while you worked on something around the corner and while we all listened and laughed to ourselves, shaking our heads. 

I'll catch myself looking around at something I'm building and think, "Man, Grandpa would love this."
You'd be proud of your great-grandkids. They all love Jesus. And that's a part of your legacy. Thank you.

I'm grateful that because of Jesus, on this day of me missing you deeply, the missing is also tinged with hope. As I reflect on that final night of song and tears and death, we didn't have to say goodbye forever, but only goodnight for now. 

Know that your grandson is still proud to carry your name. And working hard to live up to it. You left big shoes to fill. 

Sleep well in the arms of Jesus, grandpa, Lord certainly knows you didn't sleep much while you were here. Enjoy your Savior this night, we'll see you in the Spring. 

"The memory of the righteous will be a blessing." Proverbs 10:7 

Vernon McPherson, 1929-2009


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