I didn’t expect the conversation to get so serious. All I was doing was reading a couple of Bible stories to Ranger for bedtime. When I mentioned that Zechariah and Elisabeth were too old to have a baby, we had to pause and discuss aging and biology and marriage and babies.
He worked out that when I “just got started,” I was a little baby. I asked if he knew who my mother was (always a puzzling question for the younger set). He guessed Nana, but no, that’s Dad’s mom. Mam is my mom. “And your dad is…” Puzzlement again. “Grandpa?”
“No, that’s Dad’s dad. My dad died when I was three.”
The other children have learned my life history and accept the fact that Grandpa Dan died. But Ranger didn’t know it yet. His eyes got teary.
“That’s very sad that he died.”
“It is,” I agreed. I didn’t tell him it was okay, because the older I get, the less okay I am with the fact that I never really knew my father. But I wanted to reassure him that I was fine. “A few years later, Mam got married again to Grandpa Guy…”
“But,” I went on reluctantly, “when I was twenty, he got very sick and died, too.”
Ranger squeezed his eyes to keep from crying, but there was a catch in his voice. “That’s so sad.”
“Well, yes. It’s very sad. But when I get to heaven I’ll see them again. So I’ll get to talk to them. It’s only sad for a little while.”
“When somebody dies, they get a gray gravestone over them.” He was keeping back the tears manfully. “How am I going to see in heaven?”
I could feel his terror, because we all have to face it. One day we’ll die and be buried. His fear came through as the terrible thought that if you’re covered up with dirt, you can’t see.
I told him that our bodies die, but our spirits go to heaven with God. All good things are in heaven, and the people we love will be there. Life can be very sad sometimes, but it’s also very good. We’re glad we have Jesus who opened up heaven to us.
My faith isn’t strictly logical or rational; I don’t think it’s much of a faith if it is. I’m actually well aware of, and not too disturbed by, the fact that our ultimate end may not look exactly like what generations of Christians have handed down to us.
All I knew was that as I looked into those teary, scared blue eyes, I had hope to give him. Not “it’ll be okay” or “don’t be sad,” but “God has us in the end.” Ranger’s fear was new, but it’s the same fear the entire human race lives with until death.
Hope gave Ranger a restful sleep that night. Later I cried a few tears into my own pillow, but in the end I fell asleep too.
Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1