Yesterday I buried my only brother, the first of my siblings to reach heaven.
Being three years older than me, it seems that he was destined to be always ahead of me. He was ahead of me into this world, ahead of me into the kingdom of heaven, ahead of me into the kingdom of God, and now he is ahead of me into heaven itself. I do not grudge him his priority – I rejoice that he has now obtained his eternal inheritance.
The apostle Andrew became a disciple of Jesus before his more famous brother the apostle Peter Jn 1:40-41. Andrew brought Peter to Jesus Jn 1:42, and similarly my brother Andrew brought me to hear the Gospel of God’s free grace revealed and secured by the Lord Jesus Christ.
His final illness was unexpected and progressed rapidly but not too rapidly for him.
When illness caught up on him only three weeks before he died, the prognosis was uncertain. He asked my sister Joan how long he had left to live. She responded that we did not know, however, it was most unlikely that he would be here in a year’s time. His immediate response was: “Praise the Lord. I will be with Jesus.” Like the apostle Paul, Andrew had ‘a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better’ Php 1:23.
He was ready long ago and told my son James that he looked forward ‘to being with Jesus and seeing mum and dad again’. I told James that his conversation with his uncle Andrew was a rare and beneficial opportunity to witness the last words and testimony of a godly person dying and preparing for eternity. Nowadays, many people are unable for various reasons to have a meaningful conversation in their last days.
The Lord has been very kind to me and my siblings in taking my mother, father and now my elder brother in a gentle and painless manner. For this we should be very thankful.
The greatest benefit of all has been the Gospel of God’s grace, with the comfort that “the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection” Westminster Shorter Catechism Answer 37. Christ has prepared and warmed the grave of the godly to be their bed, reminding me how my mother used to ‘tuck me into bed’ when I was young.
Andrew wanted to go; he is now at his everlasting rest, richer than any of us.
So, on Friday 31/8/2018 my two sisters and I laid his mortal remains in the earth where our parents lay in North Dalnottar Cemetery, Mountblow Road, Clydebank, which overlooks the Erskine Bridge, where they lie as if in bed until the Resurrection morning. On that happy morning, the saints of God will arise with new, spiritual bodies, like Christ’s glorious body, to be forever with the Lord.
It is the first breach among my siblings, following two breaches among our cousins in other branches of my mother’s family, reminding us that our time can come at any moment.
May God bless each one of my readers with that lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ Who alone can give us ‘peace with God’ Rom 5:1.
In this manner my only brother Andrew passed away to his eternal rest last week aged 66 years old.
I and the family are grateful to each and all who attended the occasion to express their sympathy. We grieve, but not as those ‘who have no hope’:
‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope’ 1Th 4:13.
20 Sep 2018: Acknowledgements and thanks.
14 Jan 2022: 70th anniversary.