I have come to the age where I run into old friends more at funerals than at weddings. We gather together and remember the days behind us when we were younger and could stay awake past 10 p.m., could drink coffee without having heart flutters into the wee hours, and eat all we wanted without becoming swimsuit challenged. Heck, in those days, we didn’t even mind appearing in a swimsuit in a public place.
We sit in services and think of these dear Christian people who tried to pass along their thoughts and guidance to us as we grew into adulthood. Their lessons are not hard, nor are they new; but, they always bear repeating and hearing over and over. One such lesson was recently learned at the funeral service of a long-time member of our church whose Christian walk was well-known and spoken of often.
Her lesson was the subject of her final service; “Stay strong, smile, and laugh as much as you can.” This was an overall theme for her life as she had dealt with much adversity.
“Stay strong” – how can any of us survive in a world filled with crime, hate, intolerance, evil intent, and corruption? Scriptures tell us to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. God will give you the strength and help you need.” (Chronicles and Isaiah). When you face those times at school or work when you are asked to compromise your beliefs or values, when you are being tempted into activities you know to be inappropriate for a follower of Christ, stay strong. When those around you are provoking you to anger, stay strong. When the clouds of doubt and fear gather around you, stay strong. It is a promise of God that he, and he alone, will give you help, strength, and courage.
“Smile, and laugh as much as you can” – the Scriptures also tell us that “a merry heart does you good, even better than a medicine.” No matter how many rocks and arrows are hurled at us, the underlying joy of God’s presence will always be with us. No, I don’t mean that the tough days won’t come when the last thing you feel is joy and certainly don’t feel like smiling. They will still hit us. But, I am saying that having God’s joy way down deep in our heart will help us survive and give us hope.
What a great legacy this lady left to her family and to her friends. Did she plan this ahead of time? Did she sit down when in her 20’s and think of the legacy to leave behind? I doubt it. It’s just how she lived.
What will my legacy, or your legacy, be when future generations look back? Will it be one of selfish living and living strictly in the moment for what feels good to you? Or, will it be one of kindness to other and doing good for those in need without making sure your name is publicized about it? Will it be a life of complaining and seeing the events around as only how they affect you? Or, will it be a life where you make each day a pleasure for others to be around you?
It’s not impossible to plan our legacy years ahead of time. If you live the life which God wants you to live, then you’ll have the richest legacy of all. Stay strong, smile, and laugh as much as you can. God bless you, Mrs. McCranie.
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.