Last I saw my uncle was at my Dad’s 65th birthday party. The backyard was full of aunts and uncles and Dutch words and English words. The sun was shining and the table in the gazebo was heavy with food.
Uncle Pete sat under the trees by the fence, talking and joking with some of the other men. He was always joking. He looked exactly like Opa sitting there and the memories rushed back like a flood…
“There’s my girl!” That’s what Opa said whenever he saw me. He always wore a smile on his wrinkled face that made me feel like the most special person in the world. He carried peppermints and Dutch candies in his pocket and he taught me how to play pool.
He and Oma lived in one side of the farmhouse after the farm passed on to his oldest son. One of my favourite parts about working summers on the farm was seeing him every day.
We stood around Opa’s graveside on a cold February day and my Uncle Martin shared a story. Years before he died, Opa had heart trouble. As he lay in the hospital bed way back then, he said, “I can’t go yet. Who will pray for my family?” He had lived and prayed for many years after that.
As I walked down the cobblestone path, past Uncle Pete who looked so much like Opa and towards the gazebo, all of these memories rushed back and I fought hard the tears.
And then, a few days ago, it was Uncle Pete in the hospital. The cancer had been discovered just a few weeks prior but had spread aggressively. My Mom went to see him and his last words to her were, “Our God is a great God!”
Praise in the midst of suffering.
He’s in heaven now. The fruit of an old man’s prayers. He’s in heaven with Opa and Oma, with my little cousin Benji and with others. It’s a legacy of prayer, a legacy of faith, that has covered this family through the generations and the years.
It’s a legacy of faith that will bring us together again on the other side.
It’s a legacy of faith that I want to pass on to my own children and grandchildren. The love of a Savior who overcame sin and sickness and even the grave. The hope of eternal life, of tears wiped away, of glory that never fades.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”