This week I attended the funeral of a man who was deeply loved, highly regarded, and simply adored by many. I didn’t know him well at all, to be honest. I only met him twice.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
I met him once as an older man—a man crippled by cancer and the effects of chemo—and once when I was a little girl.I was running down the halls of my church, playing with my little brother as we waited for my parents to come out of a meeting. I must have been running pretty fast, because all of a sudden I found myself awkwardly hugging a very tall man. I stumbled away, embarrassed and breathless, mumbling something close to, “excuse me, sorry. I’m so sorry…”
He looked down at me sternly, then gave a little smile and said, “No problem. You’re fast!” And then kept walking.
He probably forgot about it the minute he started walking away. I did too, I think, until I met him this past summer. I didn’t remind him of the story, but now that I think of it, I would always smile at him as we passed one another in the halls, or give him a little wave.
He was friendly. He had a kind, quiet, spirit that could be felt across the room. For whatever reason, my young self-trusted him.
Like I said, I didn’t really know him, but I felt strongly compelled to go to his memorial service. I was nervous, but curious if I’m honest.
I knew that he was loved and that there would be so many who would be there to honor and remember him.
I had this thought—this question, really—burning in the back of my mind…
“What does the funeral of a person who lived well, look like?”
And it was the most beautiful funeral I have ever been to.
I got a text right before the memorial service about a section in the book Jesus Calling. Part of it read this,
“You can achieve the victorious life through living in deep dependence on Me. People usually associate victory with success: not failing or stumbling, not making mistakes. But those who are successful in their own strength tend to go their own way, forgetting about Me. It is through problems and failure, weakness and neediness that you learn to rely on Me. True dependence is not simply asking Me to bless what you have decided to do. It is coming to Me with an open mind and heart, inviting Me to plant My desires within you.”
If anybody lived the victorious life, it was this man.
The word that was, hands down, used the most to describe him, was, “humble.”
The trait, I think, used to describe all who have let go of their own plans for a much greater one.
It’s the word that describes those who have deepened their trust in God.
So many people came to celebrate this life well lived. He left too soon, really. He was still young, and yet the legacy he left behind, far exceeds the happy years he spent down here.
It so far exceeds his life-span, that I found myself touched by him, even though he himself did not speak.
This man’s life verse was Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
I heard this man’s story told that day. He was a bus driver making ends meet, and then with one steady calling...a tiny whisper...he was called to something greater.
He trusted humbly, listened openly, loved with everything he had, and committed all of who he was to the Lord.
He did amazing things too. Beautiful, wonderful, work. Yet none more important than the work he did in his relationships.
He found it. He found the secret to living and dying well.
He trusted all that he had, and all of who he was to the Lord. He dedicated himself to his family, friends, ministry, and relationship with God.
He lived out the victorious life.
Dependant on God.
Trusting his Father.
I want to live like that. I want to die like that.
I hope that no matter how long or short I live, that I will have lived my days loving others, and loving God.
Just like this man.
He touched me. I didn’t know him and he touched my heart.
That’s how I want to die. Leaving ripples even at my memorial service.
So I guess, this is what the funeral of a person who lived well looks like. It is so powerful, that it is life-changing even though there was death. It is a celebration of a wonderful life.
I have been to funerals before, but there is such a big, big, difference between the funeral of someone who lived for themselves, and someone who lived for others.
I know that’s ugly. I know it’s not very pretty to think about. But I figure it’s better to think about it now, rather than as I’m lying on my deathbed.
I want to love well. I want to live well. I want to sacrifice my time, energy and whole life, for something greater than myself.
After all, isn’t that what Jesus did? Didn’t He have the most victorious life?
And His funeral was certainly more of a celebration of life in the end.
That is truly a victory. That is the secret.
It is living your life fully dependent and dedicated to a God who will take you farther than anything else.
This is how I want to die well.