I did another funeral today for another older brother who lived a long and wonderful life in Jesus. I am so thankful for the life of this dear brother and so thankful that we got to be friends for thirteen years. I’m also thankful that I could be there for his family and have the honor of sharing a few words of comfort and support as we all said our farewells. It wasn’t difficult to come up with things to say. He was a brother of exceptional character and exemplary living. He served God and His church as faithfully as any person I’ve ever known in my half century of church-going. He was a wonderful shepherd of the flock for our church, doing that thankless task for over four decades. He taught, he sacrificed, he gave, he lead, and he smiled and shared the love of Jesus to everyone he met! No – it wasn’t hard to come up with things to say about such an amazing friend and brother in Christ.
Still, I said something I’ve said maybe a hundred times at funerals. Not because I can’t come up with anything new, but because it’s so deeply true – and becoming more true ever day God gives me. “When all is said and done, life is about who you love and who loves you back.” As long as God is at the top of that list of “who,” all else is bio-filler! Degrees, awards, successes, honors, portfolios, and resume’s all pale to insignificance when a life has been lived and the only thing worth thinking about is relationships and love. Our job is to not lose sight of that simple truth. So many things seem so important at a specific time in our lives, but none of it matters when we are in a coffin and people are reflecting on how much they care about us and miss us. We only get one life to learn how important love is and it’s a tragedy to ignore or postpone those relationships because we must succeed at something far less important.
I closed my thoughts at the funeral with a line from Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry Potter and Sirius Black are talking about Harry’s parents being dead and how he missed them so much. Sirius gets on his knees in front of Harry and says, “The ones that love us the most, really never leave us. They’re always right here!” He placed his hand over Harry’s heart.
I hope a lot of people will have me in their hearts when I’m gone. Don’t you? That’s what a life well lived is all about!