Today we drove 5 hours, round trip, to celebrate the life of my brother-in-law. I did not know very many of the people there, but it was a nice turn out of family and friends who were touched by his life. Although drugs consumed a big part of his life, the bigger part was when he met Jesus on his own road to Demascus. He was on fire for the Lord and that makes my heart happy. Distance and finances had kept us from really getting to know each other, but I do recall one Easter brunch in a restaurant several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit next to him and we talked “God”. It was a refreshing conversation, especially on Easter, my favorite holiday of the year. We had a few telephone conversations after that brunch and we shared God stories. I love sharing God stories.
I recall when my niece, Jill, passed away a little over three years ago. My brother-in-law heard the news and called me while I was at the funeral home with hundreds of people paying their respects to her and my family. He shared the love of Jesus with me and comforted me with his prayers for peace. He shared Easter with me in December.
In the last leg of our journey home this evening, we passed the bus station. The dark evening sky and the lights inside the station made it so I could see the bench that my two sisters and I sat on as we waited for a bus to transport one of my sisters back home after the funeral for Jill. I remember how I did not want my sister to leave. The closeness of family is the only thing I can grasp onto at such times and sitting on the bench made me want to stop time and keep my sister here with me.
Death is a wake up call. We feel close to those we love; we cling to those we love that are still with us. But as time moves forward, we hit a snooze button and “forget” we had that closeness. Life moves on.
Even though we know we will all one day die, death is a shock. Recent posts on Facebook of death notices include the familiar comment, “remember to spend time with your loved ones as you never know when someone will be called home”. Why do we have to be reminded to spend time with those we love?
Funerals are the one occassion we stop what we are doing and pay our respects. Our pictures and stories become extra special as we recall the relationships that have suddenly ended. Distance doesn’t seem to matter when there is a death. Most funerals are held only when everyone can be there that needs to be there. We take the time to travel to be there. Whether it is a 5 hour round trip or a bus ride across a few states; we make the time because we know love. This love is what Jesus taught us.
Godspeed to the newly deceased. To be absent from the body means they are present with our Lord. Rest in peace dear brother-in-law, great is your reward.
John 3:16 (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.