I'm sitting here in my dining room watching the sun set listening to some Over the Rhine. Dusk has always been one of my favorite parts of the day. I find it very relaxing and it always puts me in a very contemplative mood. Add to that Karen Berquist's amazing voice filling every corner of the room and washing over me and I felt like I had to write something. I'm not really sure where this is going, but I'm glad you're along for the ride.
It's been a tough year so far and it's only the middle of January. On January 1st we lost a friend in a tragic accident. I admit I'm still struggling to get my arms around it and see God's purpose in it. You just don't expect to lose someone at 47. An amazing wife and mother of 3 girls, she devoted her life to them and in service to others through church. You will be missed Susan. Bob, we will continue to lift you and the girls up in prayer each day.
On Friday, we lost my wife's grandfather. While at 88 this one is a little easier to understand, it's no less difficult to deal with. He was an amazing man, surviving the beaches on D-Day and coming home to raise a family. A very hard worker and a very nice man. Bill, you will be missed, but we are comforted that you are now reunited with your lovely bride, who I know you've missed greatly the last couple of years.
Two funerals in the first month of the year are two too many. It has really hit home how short and fragile life is. It makes me not want to miss one minute with my wife and kids. The short time we are given here on earth is precious and I pray that I would spend it focusing on the things that really matter because we never know how much longer we have. I pray that my life would honor God above all other things in whatever time I'm given. I pray that I would pass things on to my kids that will make a difference in their lives: faith in Christ, unconditional love, laughter, the confidence to pursue their dreams despite the obstacles. I pray that they would always know that I love them no matter what they do and that I always have their back and support them. I pray that they would forgive my mistakes as a parent.
I pray that my wife would always know that she is the love of my life, that I enjoy every minute we get to spend together, and miss her when we're apart. I pray that she would also forgive me for my mistakes as a husband. I pray that our marriage would be a model to our kids that they can look to as they mature and eventually start their own families. Not that we have a perfect marriage, but quite the opposite, I hope that they see when we screw up, we forgive each other. That even when we're upset with each other, it doesn't change the fact we love each other.
I know I'm rambling. It's just that going to funerals and listening to all the stories of those that have passed away, makes me wonder what people will say about me when I'm gone. What kind of an impact have I had on those around me? What kind of legacy have I left my children? What will people remember about me? I suppose it's kind of selfish to think of such things, but I guess it's part of how I deal with the loss. Maybe it just keeps me from fully dealing with the pain of loss or maybe it's God re-focusing my life on what He wants me to see as truly important. Perhaps it's a little bit of all that.
I like the idea of celebrating someones life when they have passed away, but there also needs to be a time of grieving. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, "a sad face is good for the heart." This sounds strange at first, but grieving allows the heart to heal. It's truly a roller coaster of emotions as we grieve and celebrate at the same time. But God is there with us on the roller coaster. As I've said many times before, God doesn't promise we won't suffer, only that He will be with us when we do go through dark valleys.
Ultimately, what I come back to is that death is not really the end. As believers in Christ we have hope in the resurrection and eternal life with God. An eternal life with no pain and suffering. So while we miss those we have lost, we will see them again some day. In the meantime, to quote The Choir, "we miss you down here... give Jesus a kiss for us."
Click here to listen to "Hey Gene" by the Choir: http://youtu.be/7hUxqFLT6G8