I just attended the funeral of a member of our church. He was ninety-seven years old. Funerals are such interesting events. We gather together to mourn, remember and make sense of our own lives. But, today I was struck by something. I will not see the end!
I will not be there to hear the words that are said about me to my family and friends. I will not know how many people attended my funeral or why they decided to come. I will not have a chance to thank them or wonder why someone I expected to come did not.
I know that these are odd thoughts. It feels strange writing them, but I feel compelled to. I do not want to let these feelings go away. They are helping me to shape the life I will lead. I no longer want to assume that life will go on as usual because it will not. I want to be able to come back and remember that life is so much more than what I settle for so often.
I don’t know when my end will come. I think this might be the reason I struggle with attending funerals. I don’t know if the convictions and passions that I hold today will be the ones that I am remembered for when my life comes to an end. As a pastor I know the difficulties that can occur in life. I have seen how tragedy, sorrow, pain and guilt can alter the trajectory of a person’s plan for life. And to this point in my life I have been spared of much of these.
I know that the man I am today may not be the man who will be remembered. To be honest I don’t even know if the man I am right now is worthy of being remembered. I am not trying to sound humble or self-deprecating. I am not trying to elicit anything. I just know who I am. I know how flawed I am. How often my motives are not those of Christ. I know the wickedness that still finds its way out of my mouth. I know… even if others never see it.
Being confronted with your own mortality has a way of putting your whole life into perspective. I will celebrate my thirty-first birthday next week. I am no longer a kid or a young adult striving to find my place in this world. I am married to a wonderful woman, the father of two beautiful daughters, and a member of the greatest family I know. I am doing what I love to do: serving God and the youth of this generation. I have seen things this year that I would never have imagined possible, both in my own life and in those around me.
I guess the thought that lingers in my mind and causes my breath to catch in my chest is this: Has my life counted for much of anything?
If I will not see the end, what am I doing to prepare those I love and who have offered their love to me to live better lives when I am gone? I do not want to over-state my importance in their lives. But, what am I doing to make their lives better? More fulfilling?
I guess that what my desire is, right now, is that I will live a life worth remembering. Not because of what I did. Nor because of who I was. If God were to answer just one prayer for the rest of my life it would be this:
Lord, help me to live a life that brings your name honor and glory, so that when my life on earth is spent, those whom I have had the privilege to love will see you, find comfort in you and give thanks to you for having used me to help them fall more deeply in love with you. Father, help me to count all things as loss so that I might cherish your name, your fame and your beauty above all else. Father, grant me strength to live this way so that when my life is over the man Jesus died to redeem might be the man I am when I die.