I went to a funeral yesterday. I’ve been to numerous ones before, including those of both of my parents. Yesterday was a little different. The past year has served to focus my eyes on eternity more keenly than ever before. Diagnosis of a chronic, life-threatening illness can do that. When you are literally keeping your child alive from day to day (far beyond “look both ways before you cross the street”), you ask yourself hard questions. Hearing her still-little-girl-voice sing “Bury Me in Wyoming” (on a cd by cowboy poet Charley Hendren) from the back seat of the van on the way to town can grip my heart. Walking among the gravestones in our little cemetery on Memorial Day with her was sobering.
Yesterday we celebrated a life well lived. A life invested, which will reap dividends for generations to come. A life that mattered not because it was necessarily lived in the public eye receiving accolades from crowds, but because it was quietly lived, faithfully lived, lovingly lived always with an eye cast Heavenward. Those attending yesterday were inspired by one woman’s example to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”. Admonished to hide God’s word in their hearts. Given a vision for what it looks like to come alongside others with genuine compassion and to wear the knees out in prayer. The testimony of her life reminded us all not to become so busy that we neglect the things which are eternal: God’s word, and people. To be mindful that nothing leaves this life with you but those things is so good for spiritual health. I love that Elisabeth Elliot was buried in a pine box, deliberately symbolic of the values she held to in her life. It’s an object lesson which has resonated with me.
But the celebration of life is not why I want you to come to my funeral. You see, the most important thing which took place yesterday is that we were all cornered into thinking bigger thoughts. We were all put in the place of considering gospel truth over again, not for someone else, but for ourselves. Somehow it is more centering, grounding, poignant at a funeral. Even if only for an hour, spending time in a room with others, having only the earthly “tent” of that loved one and the echo of their memory to recall in the quiet…it is time well spent. Considering what matters, what we are doing that is of real importance in a forever sort of way…it’s good. Feeling the void that is left because that voice will not be heard in prayers for others any more on this earth…it’s compelling. Wishing we’d had one last visit…it is motivating. To be spurred on to be more present in the days we have remaining…it’s invaluable to us and all those touched by our lives.
Life is fragile. It is a vapor, a breath. A blip on Heaven’s radar. One preacher has said it is a mere dress rehearsal for eternity. Come to my funeral one day, so that these things can be laid out for you to contemplate again. So that you can recall the loving and supporting sense of family we ought to be experiencing in the body of Christ every day. My body will be incidental. My memory I hope will be sweet. My hope is that the occasion might encourage you to ask yourself if you have the confidence I’ve hopefully shared with you in some way, regarding my heavenly Home. I want to see you again. And I wish for you to be reminded once more in this busy, horizontal, hectic life…to look upward. And to look inward as I did yesterday.
I love this song. Can you agree? If you do not view death as a door to something infinitely better than what you know right now, please message me.