02.05.07

HOMECOMING!!

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 10:16 pm by Libbie

Al is home with Jesus, safely through the Valley of the Shadow, and he has woken up in the glorious sunshine of heaven, face to face with the savior he has loved for 44 years. We are so glad!!

Al slipped mostly out of consciousness during the night, maybe around 2 a.m., and starting around 10 this morning he began struggling to breathe. We thought that meant that he would pass away soon, but he remained with us for ten more hours, laboring to breathe all that time. We kept talking to him, singing, reading Scripture, praying, touching him, and visiting around his bedside, occasionally laughing–even uproariously on two occasions. He was there in the midst of us, very much a part of us, even when he was to all appearances unresponsive. They say that people in that state can hear what is being said, so we kept including him in our conversations. We kept telling him how much we loved him and were thankful for him, and we kept telling him how thankful (and even envious) we were that he would soon be seeing Jesus face to face. Sometimes we laughed, sometimes we cried, and often we sang songs of worship.

Our hope from the beginning was that we could all be there at the moment that Al actually died, but after a mostly sleepless night last night we realized that we would need to sleep tonight and that probably we would not all be awake when it happened. That was okay, because we had had so much wonderful time with him in the past several days. Each of us let go of that expectation with peace.

Yet the Lord graciously arranged it so that in fact we were all there in the room with him when he died. Some of us got there only a few seconds before, but we were all there. Al simply took his last breath, his heart slowed down, and he was gone. We cheered, we cried, we hugged each other, we practically literally danced with joy at the sure knowledge that Al was free–from pain, from exhaustion, from labored breathing, from the fibromyalgia that has pummeled him for years and years, from cancer, and from death itself. There just weren’t enough ways to express the joy we felt. The best we could do was sing with every bit of gusto in our souls the song “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.”

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
and cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

O’er all those wide extended plains
shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
and scatters night away.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

No chilling winds or poisonous breath
can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
are felt and feared no more.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
and in his bosom rest.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

What a celebration! No doubt the sadness will set in, perhaps tomorrow, but for tonight we can feel only joy, intense and exhilarating. And relief. We have all been walking around since heaving sigh after sigh of relief and feeling the tension, and concern, and adrenaline drain out of our bodies.

Since we had been praying over and over for two days that God would come and take Al home and waiting and waiting for him to answer that prayer, we yearned for that release and homecoming more than anything. So when it finally happened, there was nothing left to feel but joy–no regret, no wising for more time, no vestiges of wanting to hang on. Perhaps that was God’s gift to us in making us wait. His timing is perfect.

I have to go, as there is still lots to do, but I wanted to let you know that the Lord’s faithful servant is home at last in his Father’s house. Hallelujah! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Libbie

161 Comments »

  1. Adam & Amy Ostella said,

    February 7, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Libbie, Alasdair, Rebeckah, Eowyn, and Alden,

    Thank you for the encouragement to look upward to the glorious hope of heaven. What a blessing to our faith! For those who desire a better country, a heavenly one, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Al is no longer a stranger to heaven, nor must he believe in what he cannot see: Christ in glory. But his faith is sight. He is home.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction …

    Adam, Amy and Caleb Ostella
    Oklahoma City, OK

  2. Bo Ljungberg said,

    February 7, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Dear Libbie,

    Mourning is Missing.
    Your blog is a wonderful exposition of 1Cor 15:55:
    “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
    God truly gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
    Yet Paul is speaking of a time when death itself will be swallowed up, at His coming, and so while this is now a blessed reality for Al, we who remain are separated from this here on earth. And so, Paul admonishes us to stand firm, and let nothing move us.
    Reading your blog I have pondered what mourning could mean to you and your family, and conclude it must mean Missing: missing your husband, father, friend. You have unselfishly let him go, and I applaud your wishing to honor all that our God and Saviour is to us, and expressing it too. And, we are encouraged to rejoice in the Lord always; repeat.
    Yet, you have the right to miss Al. I understand it will be with much gratitude for what he was, and is, to you and your kids. Perhaps this missing-mourning will be brightened by the prospect of reunion in heaven, when we also will have put on the imperishable? All the better!
    But missing is mourning. I do. And you and your children have all the more reason and right to.

    Kindest regards,
    Bo

  3. Grace Zhao said,

    February 7, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Dear Libbie and family:

    Your joy and sorrows shine gloriously.

    I believe our Father is holding all of you in His bosom.

    Grace

  4. George and Julie Kong said,

    February 7, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    “How the mighty have fallen!” (II Sam. 2) – We read this lament in Hebrew in one of Al’s classes. For the first time in my short Hebrew career, I was overcome by a flood of emotion while reading Hebrew! It is a moment I will never forget. How fitting that those very words and feelings came back to me the moment I learned of Al’s passing.

    I have many friends and acquaintances in this world, but Al was one of a very few that I consider close friends and kindred spirits, even though I only got to see him rarely. Judging from the posts here, I think there are a hundred people who could say the same about Al. Without a doubt, the world is poorer and heaven is richer since Al has moved on.

    Libbie and kids – We will always remember fondly the evening we got to spend with you and Al last fall.
    You have been in our prayers and will continue to be .

    George, for the Kong family

  5. Paul said,

    February 7, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Dear Groves family,

    I share in your sorrow in this great loss, but I also believe I share in your joy, because this servent and brother in the Lord has heard that phase we all long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servent”. Al’s life is marked by faithfulness. From his heeding to the call to ministry and training others in it and his faithfuleness in trusting God despite all circumstances right unto the end of his time in this life. What joy to know that in the life he has now, he has no pain, he has no sorrow. He only has the unimaginable and yet attainable glory of praising the living Son of God, Jesus Christ. All of this by grace. Of the grace and mercy he preached and taught he now has full knowledge. What he saw dimly in this life, he nowe sees fully. May the grace and mercy that God extended to Al be ours as well, as we trust in the unfailing faithfulness of God and his great love for us even during these most difficult times.

    Paul

  6. Glenda Vanden Berg said,

    February 7, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Dear Libbie, Aladair,Lauren, Rebeckah, Eowyn and Alden,

    Words cannot express my appreciation for your wonderful testimonies you have all shared so freely on this blog. I have been deeply touched as I read of your journey with regards to the sickness and passing of your beloved husband and father. I have shared some of your entries with my highschool students at school and we have prayed for you as a class as well. I am privileged to have known Al as a professor and friend and you, Libbie as well. I have fond memories of you four children from the time we went to Israel back in 2000. May the Lord continue to strengthen and provide for you all. You will continue to remain in my thoughts and prayers.
    Much love,
    Glenda

  7. Al Chapman said,

    February 7, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Dearest Groves,

    Al pointed to Christ through the testimony of his life and, in his passing, Christ is further revealed.

    We pray for you. We grieve with you. May God be glorified. Amen.

    Love,

    Al

  8. David E. Tate said,

    February 8, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Dear Libbie and Family,

    When I think of Al I get a mix of mental images: picking cherries in your yard, being introduced to the Aubrey-Maturin novels, and those nutty mnemonics to help me memorize Hebrew. I also remember our eating lunch together while we discussed the MiniChurch you and Al led together and listening while Al spoke with such joy about Dartmouth and Deuteronomy.

    But perhaps the memory, or feeling, that pervades all others is simply a sense of his quiet contentment and peace. I never recall Al being flustered or irritated. He just seemed to walk through life accomplishing infinitely more than the rest of us who were working so hard to run through life. This blog is a testament to that fact. It shows me a man and his family walking together through the valley of the shadow of death, while enjoying the scenery along the way. Amazing.

    Libbie, I never remember you without picturing a smile on your face. So, it grieves me to know the sorrow that you must feel because of Al’s absence at this time. I wish I could join the throng which will comfort you during the service on Saturday. I pray the time of worship will be great as together you praise God by remembering how He used Al in our lives. However, I will leave on a mission trip an hour before that service is scheduled to begin.

    I pray that God will comfort you during this difficult time.

    God bless you.

  9. Jason Zuidema said,

    February 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Dear Mrs. Groves and Family,

    We were saddened to hear about your great loss. We always appreciated the work of Westminster’s OT department and will miss Prof. Groves’ contributions to great Christian scholarship.

    God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you–and give you peace.

    Sincerely,

    Jason Zuidema
    On behalf of Farel Reformed Theological Seminary, Montreal, Quebec

  10. Matt Lin said,

    February 11, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Dear Mrs. Groves and Family,

    I’ll always remember Al, especially for the first time that I played basketball with him. I was in my first year at Westminster, and I always extremely nervous before my professors. Yet there he was greeting me as I entered the gym. I think I managed out the words “Hey P-p-p-profess-s-s-sor Groves,” but just barely. Knowing this, he came to me later and said those words I’ll never forget: “Just call me Al.” Of course, I thought of that song right away, but it was his gentleness and approachability that made me love and appreciate him right away as an older brother in Christ. Even before I had the privelege of hearing him lecture or speak in class, the impression he made on me as a person typified the very Savior he so enjoyed to speak of.

    May the Lord keep and bless your family–as he has blessed me through yours!
    On behalf of the Lins,
    Matt

  11. Sarah John said,

    May 28, 2014 at 2:05 am

    Thank you for sharing last moment of your family, God bless you all

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