A Beautiful Day for a Funeral
I don't like funerals, never have liked them. As a Christian, I know that the passing of someone who is a believer is an exciting time because of the whole heaven and eternal life bit, but it still didn't seem to make me feel any better. Through the years, I have always preferred to play for the service because I could remain a bit distant from the whole thing by having to focus on music rather than what was being said or done. It isn't that I am reticent to weep in public, au contrare', I get quite weepy during many times of worship and praise, at many movies and in the privacy of my car when a song or sermon is touching my heart. It's just the whole grief thing and the public stuff that has always bothered me.
Today, however, I attended a Celebration service for a man in my church who has gone to be with God. Brian was in his forties with a wife and two great teenage kids. He led his family in the Lord, was a true servant of God and always had a smile for everyone he passed. He loved God, his family, his church, sports and life in general. The celebration factor came in because for a number of years, Brian had been stricken with Lou Gehrigs disease and was wheelchair bound and unable to speak, but very rarely missed a service at church. He always sat in his wheelchair by his wife in the pew, would smile at the music and during the message and you could just tell that he was praising God in his heart and wanted to just shout out loud or clap his hands. But, he could not do it physically.
He and his wife were adamant that when this time of transition of life came, that any service was to be joyous, uplifting and a celebration that he was no longer wheelchair bound and could run and shout and praise God with the voice he had lost in recent years. And, as his wife told me yesterday, Brian just went ahead to make sure that heaven was gonna be fun and help prepare things for the rest of us when we come.
I experienced a time today of pure joy and celebration that Brian had lived and died, but is now complete. He touched my life and the lives of all he met and we are better for it. As the family came into the sanctuary we began singing "Victory in Jesus" and the family was singing almost louder than the congregation. His wife had her hands raised in praise when we sang "Shout to the Lord" and would stand in reverence and praise when "No More Night" was sung at the conclusion.
Were there tears today? Yes. Were some of the tears mine? Definitely so. Tears of sadness? No, but tears for the eternal hope I and other believers have for our future of eternal life with God in His heaven. I realized today that I will see Brian again, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, my boyhood friend Larry, my little pal David and his mother Linda, other men and women who helped to raise me in the faith before their passing and so many other loved ones from my 52 years of life. I guess in my sorta quirky view of theology, I like to believe I'll even see Murphy again; running across the fields of heaven to give me doggie kisses once again. Aw, there come the tears again.
I grew today. No longer will I dread funerals as much because I have come to see them as the true Celebration. If you don't know where you would spend eternity if you died tonight, then let me encourage you to seek out God and His Son, Jesus. Email me privately or comment back and I'll help you and there are so many other readers who can also encourage you.
Thank you, Brian, for your life and what I learned from you today. Thank you Kay, Justin and Kalina for standing firm on a true Celebration of Life and not just a time of sad, slow songs and stories.
Dear readers, please keep Kay, Justin and Kalina in your prayers as they adjust to a life without a husband and father. But, I know they would want you to pray for your own lives as you attempt to find God and live your life for Him each day.
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.