by Ruth Baer
We buried my Aunt Tense a few weeks ago. She was 94, lived a long life and died peacefully in her sleep. Her son, Larry, led the funeral service. All of us gathered together to say our last goodbyes – we came from near and far. There were the Colorado families, the Chicago cousins, the “local” relatives (Southern Illinois) and one aunt from Japan, who happened to be in Illinois at the time.
We are a large family on my mother’s side. Only 2 out of 10 siblings remain: my Aunt Shirley who lives in southern Illinois and my Uncle Pat who is a missionary in Japan. Larry reminded us of who we are by telling stories of days gone by and God’s faithfulness to us throughout our lives. Aunt Tense, he said, loved Jesus and shared with us how God had provided for her all her life.
There were so many stories! We caught up with each other’s lives, held and loved the newest baby family members, and remembered our many reunion stories. In fact, as strange as it sounds, this was a reunion of our family – we came together during a not-so-pleasant circumstance, and we loved each other well.
The “first cousins” are now the older generation! And we saw it – the look our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews had as they learned about their family heritage, about how we love and comfort each other because we are family.
Larry shared from his heart that he was comforted by seeing so many family together to celebrate Aunt Tense’s life and lay her body to rest in the ground. Oh, we all knew Aunt Tense was with Jesus! But the little ones didn’t know or understand; it was up to us to tell them, to show them how it looks, how it works. It is up to us to tell them Who the Great Comforter is and to let Him comfort us during the times of grieving.
Then we all went to the graveside. After a brief reading of Scripture and prayer, we visited Grandma & Grandpa’s graves (Aunt Tense’s and my mother’s parents). There we took pictures.
And remembered and shared more stories. We reminded ourselves how much Grandma loved Jesus and prayed consistently for all of us. Then we headed off to eat together in that little So Illinois town of Murphysboro, where Grandma & Grandpa and all 10 children called home. And as we ate with one another, we remembered and told more stories to each other and to the next generation.
That’s what family does, and that is what God expects. He tells us in Ps 78:
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
God wants us to tell our children, our grandchildren stories from the past! Why? So they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds!
Grandparents, parents, what stories are you telling your children? Do they see how good and faithful God is in YOUR stories? One day our physical bodies will be gone, but our stories will continue through the generations. May we pass on the stories in our families that show the truth of the Scripture – that Jesus Christ is our guide, our Comforter in this life and the next, that God is faithful to do all that He promises, and that He leads us to our heavenly Home!