Friday, July 16, 2010

Celebrate or Mourn? Which Would You Choose?

There is a verse in the book of Ecclesiastes that caught my attention just a couple of months ago, and for the past 24 hours, it has been rolling around in my mind.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 says: 2) It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men and the living will lay it to his heart. 3) Sorrow is better than laughter for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 4) The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Everyone likes a good party, don't they? And just how many people do you know that look forward to going to a funeral? These verses are saying that mourning and sorrow are better than feasting and laughter because they cause us to reflect wisely on the brevity of life.

Yesterday, I attended a funeral; and I have to say that it caused me to reflect the rest of the day about the person who died. My daughter's paternal grandfather died this week at the ripe, old age of 89. He would have been 90 in November. I must confess, I don't believe that I have ever attended a funeral quite like this one. On Wednesday evening, family and friends gathered to pay their respect, and comfort to each other. While there were a few tears, they were, indeed few. Most people were not overly emotionally distraught over this man's death because they all knew 1) that his health had been so compromised in the past year that he had been wracked with pain and discomfort and 2) he was in heaven, rejoicing with Jesus on his arrival. It's hard to be selfish and sad when you think of it that way.

During the funeral, approximately 40 minutes was dedicated to people giving their statement of love and admiration for this man. From being a loving, Godly husband for 65 years;to being an excellent example of how to be a husband, father and grandfather to his children and grandchildren;
and finally to being a first classs example to his family, friends and church family on how to live your life for Christ, by being involved mentally, physically and spritually in his church for his "whole" life. The praise flowed freely, and I could attest to whatever was said because I had actually seen his life in action because I was his daughter-in-law for 15 years!

You didn't have to be around this man very long to realize that he was dead serious about his relationship with God, the salvation of others, and that he was genuinely living his life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

He was a giver. If you had a need and he had something to fill that need; he gave it.

He was a lover. He took care of his ailing wife with a tender care and love until the day they took him away to Hospice; he loved his children, his grandchildren, his church family, and offered love and acceptance to many who crossed his path over the years.

He was a cook. It never failed; if you stopped by his home on any given day, he would have some delicious little treat like zucchini bread, bananna bread, pie, home baked cookies, or the like, to offer to you; and if you ever went to his home for a meal, you could rest assured that when you left, you would be full and well satisfied.

He was a craftsman. This guy could take a piece of wood and turn it into a handy little item for your home or a cute little toy to play with. He could also build just about anything. He built his own home and helped his son build a room addition for our home.

He was a game player. He would take care of his grandchildren and play games for hours with them, or he would invite church families over and play cards or board games with them.

He was a gardener. This man had one of the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen up until the time he went to an assisted living care center just about 8 or 9 years before his death.

He was a singer and played the piano by ear.

He was a peacemaker. I remember when his son and my marriage was starting to disintegrate and he and my mother-in-law and took me to lunch and asked if they could help in any way and was this what I wanted. They truly cared and wanted to be of help to us, not just stick their noses in our business.

There were numerous stories about how he had helped people in tight spots, by giving money, food and love to those in need. There were stories from his children, his pastors, his grandchildren, life long friends and acquaintences about his ability to serve, give and love.

I was so humbled as I sat and listened to the testimony about this man's life. It hit me that because of him and his love for Christ which he passed on to his children, my life had been dramatically changed, too.

When you leave a funeral like that, you can't help but wonder what your own personal legacy will be. What will the words spoken at your funeral say about you? Will anyone know that I loved Christ and that my life was all about glorifying Him?

I want to live for Jesus! My prayer today, Father, is that you will set me on fire for you, your Word and and the purpose of Christ...the salvation of your people. Fill me with a boldness to proclaim your name; open my mouth and let my praise and thanksgiving for all you have done and continue to do for me each and every day of my life flow out; compel me to teach others about you. Let me not rest until I have fulfilled the purpose that you created me to accomplish.

Thank you, my friend, for being an inspiration to many even in death. I feel that the ceremony held in your honor more than likely touched someone or maybe even several or many who heard your story yesterday. There you go, continuing to affect lives for God even when you're really no longer here with us.

I am sure that the moment you heard the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant", that you knew your life had been worth the living. May it be the same for us.

1 Cor. 2:9 says But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Wrap your brain around that for a minute, would you? We have never seen or heard or imagined the things God has prepared for those who love Him. I know this: my friend, my daughter's grandfather, my former father-in-law, is this moment enjoying whatever they are, and I am so happy for him because he lived his life for Christ and earned it!

Praise God for true faith and love for him and the example they provide to us.

Once again, God's Word proves to be true. There is no party I could have gone to yesterday that could have inspired me to give more of my life for Christ than attending this funeral did.

Thank You....

I dreamed I went to Heaven, you were there with me.
We walked upon the streets of gold beside the Crystal Sea.
We heard the angels singing, then someone called your name.
You turned and saw this young man, and he was smiling as he came.
He said, "Friend you may not know me now," and then he said, "But wait -
You used to teach my Sunday School, when I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart."

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
Then another man stood before you, he said "Remember the time,
A missionary came to your church, His pictures made you cry.
You didn't have much money but you gave it anyway.
Jesus took that gift you gave
And that's why I'm in Heaven today"

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
One by one they came, far as your eyes could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done, sacrifices that you made,
They were unnoticed on this earth
In Heaven now proclaimed.

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
And I know up in Heaven you're not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure there were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand and you stood before the Lord
He said "My child look around you,
Great is your reward."

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave,
I am so glad you gave.

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