“Homecoming is special because we’re all home-going—and this allows us to check in along the way.”

We just finished homecoming week at Wheaton Academy, and that quote (said by Greg Cox) summed this one up for me. For the first time I experienced the Academy’s homecoming as a writer rather than as a teacher. I still chaperoned at the square dance/hoedown Saturday night (fun), but I also interviewed a 1947 grad who spoke on bioet

Photo by Judy Wen

hics in the advanced biology class; I talked for more than an hour with the two alumni of the year; and I met, face-to-face, all the former teachers I interviewed this summer while preparing for a different article. I also had the privilege of going to the alumni worship service Sunday morning. While some of the alum there were around my age, most graduated in the 40s and 50s. I could have listened to them talk all day long.

One former teacher (I actually taught with her) told me about her struggles following retirement. “I felt like I’d lost purpose. I asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ Then I learned this truth: I still have the same job, to serve Jesus. That didn’t change. The only thing that changed was how I did it.”

I met a woman who cares for a very ill husband. Her days are spent dispensing medicines and aiding him in getting around. But she had a smile on her face. The hardest thing, she says, “is watching him suffer,” but she’s seeing how God is being glorified through it, and that helps.

Another former teacher (I taught with her as well) just had to place her husband in assisted living. But rather than talk about that, she wanted to spend our time together encouraging me.

They’re going home. They’re not there yet—this is not it. That recognition changes everything. It gives them purpose. These are forward-gazing people. They have looked back and seen the hand of God in their lives. Through heart attacks and strokes, through lost loved ones and errant children, through financial highs and very low lows, they have learned that God is a constant companion. He never fails, He never forsakes. He always keeps His promises.

And when they “check in” with each other on their home-going way, these are the things they remind each other of. These are the things they reminded ME of. “Hang on. He’s faithful. Call out to Him. He’s there. We’ve seen it. We’ve lived it.”

“Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.” Isaiah 46:4 (Amplified)

Soli deo Gloria!

A good home-GOING

This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, EJ Underwood, who has spent the last several years taking very loving care of Jenna Mae. In this picture he’s helping PJ. It’s a constant habit with this man.

My dad has always said that one of the great proofs to him of Christianity is the way believers in Christ die. As a family doctor for more than 50 years, he’s seen plenty of deaths. The ones who have been walking with Jesus, he says, look like they’re just taking the next step. There’s often a smile and a brightness of the face, like they caught a glimpse of Him with their heavenly eyes while they were still in their earthly bodies. Dave’s 98-year-old grandma, Jenna Mae, who went home on Tuesday, got just such a glimpse.

“Boys, I’m going home today.” That’s what she told the two pastors who visited her that afternoon. They’d come every day. She hadn’t said that before. “You are?” one of them said. She nodded and then asked if he could sing “In the Garden.” He started to, but couldn’t remember the words. “You sing it, Jenna.”

“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

She didn’t get all the way through it. Tired, her memory slipping, she requested “Face to Face.”

“Face to face with Christ my Saviour, face to face—what will it be—when with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me?”

EJ was supported by our Nana (Peggy). Here she is–also with PJ!

A few minutes later Jenna Mae had her answer.

It was a good homegoing.