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Throughout my ministry, I have presided over a large number of funerals and memorial services. Many of these individuals had lived a full and meaningful life and went to meet their Maker with great joy and thanksgiving. But others died while leaving behind many regrets and ruptured relationships. Obviously, the atmosphere can be quite different in those services. But regardless of the situation, one must minister God’s Word as much as possible to hurting hearts.
Some years ago, there was a Christian writer who died at a relatively young age. The man had worked tirelessly to get Christians more actively involved in the arts, and his life was a testimony to God’s grace and creativity. By all accounts, he had been a faithful husband, a good father and a sincere servant of the gospel of Jesus Christ. People wept at the funeral for a man most thought would have lived many more years. Yet as his casket was picked up by the pall-bearers and carried down the church aisle, an unusual thing happened. Mourners became celebrators. The crowd erupted into a spontaneous standing ovation! You see, this was a life well lived – a life in which death proclaimed a victory, not a defeat. It was a life marked by faithfulness and service. Such a life called for a thunderous cheer.
I like that! My desire is that each of us would live in such a way that our passing would bring forth that kind of response. It’s been said: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’” Over the years some have made the comment (jokingly, I hope) that they wanted to die young so they could leave behind a good-looking corpse. Well, who cares about a good looking corpse? I’d much rather die worn out and used up because I invested my life in eternal matters!
By God’s grace may each of us live out our days for His glory and for the advancement of His kingdom.