I just returned from a funeral for a man who was two weeks younger than I am. Now he doesn’t have an age, because he has stepped out of time and into eternity.
Like most funerals, this one was shrouded in tears and grief at the loss of a loved one. Unlike many I have attended, though, this one was heartrendingly authentic. That quality also makes it one of the most meaningful and helpful remembrance services of my experience.
I say this because during the hour of its duration, every part of it pointed to truth and, especially, ultimate Truth.
None of us lives as well as we should live. All of us cause pain to others, especially to those we love. It is probably safe to say that most of our lives are amalgamations of joy and sorrow, fear and peace; but what we most long for is purpose and security.
Some people earn praise and respect for their successes…and we all have some of those. Others, less auspiciously, may serve as a cautionary tale. But all of us are examples, whether we like it or not. People watch our lives. Those close enough to us see who we are, “warts and all.” And sometimes, like the proverbial cracked pot that holds a candle, our flaws can serve as sources of illumination.
The full view of another’s life is probably the most helpful to those who have eyes to see…as time goes on, I have started to realize that
(1) many of us are encouraged, not so much by others’ good fortune as, by the honest testimony of their shortfalls and disappointments, because those are common to all of us, and emotionally healthy people understand this; it’s hard to relate to paragons; and
(2) there’s an overarching frame of reference that all people share in common, whether they acknowledge it or not: We’re all created, we all comprise mortal and immortal natures, and all of our earthly lives are temporary. An eternal transition awaits all of us, and there are only two destinations-despite how adamantly many refuse to accept this.
The incredibly good news is that the choice of our destination depends not on how well we succeed or perform, but on one simple act of will that is possible for all of us to make: what we do with Jesus Christ.
There was a time when I would have prefaced that statement by saying, “As a Christian, I believe that…” But I am older now and have less time for loopholes. So, I say it straight out: it’s not just that I believe that statement, it’s that this is reality. I’ve been known to make people mad by this narrow insistence of mine. No matter. How it is-is how it is.
I came away from the funeral this morning still sad for the family left behind, but reminded that all those in Christ WILL see this departed one again. Why? Because he understood Who Jesus is, and how desperately he needed Him. He surrendered and was accepted. None of his struggles or shortcomings disqualified him.
In fact I say, with confidence, that he wouldn’t come back if he could.
He has arrived at the right destination and it is unspeakably better than all he could as or imagine.