“For you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward, for you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:34-36
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve attended my family reunion on Memorial Day Weekend. Perfectly manicured lawns, lush peonies, a shelter with picnic tables, and the old family cemetery complete the setting of our yearly gathering.
My great grandma had 11 kids. ELEVEN. My grandma Glenva (everyone called her “Glenvie”) held reigning title as the oldest sibling. (She was also my inspiration for the cooking side of this blog.)
After all the youngins’ grew up and had families of their own, someone decided it would be a good idea to get these characters together on a regular basis. By the time I came along, this had been going strong for years, and I was born in the 60’s. I grew up never giving it a second thought, knowing that every year on that Sunday, mom, dad and I would be missing church and attending our family reunion in Gay, WV. And we NEVER missed church. And yes, I said “Gay, WV”. Once, in the early 90’s, a bunch of Gay citizens got together and tried to lobby to change the name. Said it was giving their town a bad rep. After a few months they realized the older folk weren’t going for it and nobody felt like changing their address stamps anyhow so it all blew over and the town stayed Gay.
As a child, I derived great joy from the reunion. My cousin Niki and I got to go walk on top of all the dead people (for which grandma and mom severely berated us – “Don’t walk in front of the grave, only behind it”), read all the names of relatives that had gone on to glory, and then skip across the road to the farm and visit the pig sty, pet the kittens, and admire whatever new animal that had been added to the collection. Sometimes we even got to milk the cows.
As you can imagine, we had many excellent cooks amongst us, dinner being a sumptuous fare featuring/58+9 all the favorites such as Aunt Elenor’s coconut cream pie and Aunt Dorothy’s strawberry pies. I say “pies” because when everyone was just about done going back for seconds and thirds and most of Elenor’s coconut cream pie was gone, the announcement rang out. “STRAWBERRY PIE!” Aunt Dorothy headed out of her house and down the steps, a pie in each hand. “STRAWBERRY PIE!!!!” The call echoed, more of the aunts joining in. Because not just two strawberry pies. Because 9 or10 strawberry pies. More than enough for everyone to have a piece – or maybe two! And oh, they were YUM.
Family humor added another dimension. Like the time Aunt Ruby (who was a little bit round) was sitting on one side of the picnic table and two cousins across from her got up at the same time. Down went Aunt Ruby in her cat eye glasses and over flopped the table on top of her. Luckily, one of the nearby uncles jumped to the rescue and caught the table before it did any damage to poor Aunt Ruby. And boy, did we laugh. On another occasion, I wasn’t paying attention while standing on third base during the softball game (because let’s face it, I HATED sports and thought it was stupid to play them at the fun family reunion) and Cousin Dee Dee blazed through first, second, and WHAM!!! Knocked me flat on my rear, my legs straight out in front of me. Cousin Dee Dee was serious about her sports. Actually, she was Aunt Ruby’s granddaughter, so maybe it ran in the genes that you either fell or caused a fall at the family reunion.
When my grandma unexpectedly died, all my great aunts and uncles came to mourn her loss and offer comfort. I remember sitting beside Aunt Dorothy and listening to her express how much grandma loved me. They rallied round us – I felt the love, I tell you.
This past year, we lost four family members. The first was my mom’s only brother. He attended the reunion last year, although his cancer had advanced so much that he used a wheelchair. He died one week later. We lost more of the original eleven – 2 uncles passed within two weeks of each other. A cousin suddenly left us with no warning two weeks ago. She was a daughter of one of the uncles we lost.
The three remaining siblings.
For this reason, the reunion took on a different dynamic this year. We felt our losses greatly, and sought to give emotional support to the immediate families at the cemetery.
I had a conversation with Cousin Sonny on the topic. “I’m not afraid to die. That doesn’t scare me. I’m afraid of suffering, though.”
You know what? I am afraid to die.
I have a better and enduring possession which I can embrace with confidence.
I will see my loved ones again. Grandma Glenva and my Papaw Rudie. Uncle Charlie, Uncle Edsel, Uncle Edgar, Cousin Patty, and many more.
And I will see my Savior.
Because I have a great reward coming – just like they did.
I’m gonna receive that promise.
That’s what Cousin Sonny was referring to when he said he wasn’t afraid to die.
You know why I think I get scared?
Because I forget. I forget to renew my mind of that promise. And that’s important.
The Bible says the believer doesn’t sorrow as those who have no hope, because we have the promise.
This world is not our home.
“This world is not my home
I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.
I have a loving mother
Just up in Gloryland
And I don’t expect to stop
Until I shake her hand.
She’s waiting now for me
In heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.”
Ever heard that old song?
I’m going to commit Hebrews 10:34-36 to memory this week in order to renew my mind. Heaven is for real. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
What about you? Who are you remembering this Memorial Day Weekend? Do you have a favorite verse about heaven?
“For you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE A BETTER AND AN ENDURING POSSESSION FOR YOURSELVES IN HEAVEN. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, YOU MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISE.” Hebrews 10:34-36, ESV
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