So Lynn, Sarah and I went to Paul’s funeral on Friday. (See Live Part I). Paul died last Sunday. 52 years old. Husband and father. Pastor and counselor. Friend and mentor. Follower of Jesus and Child of God. The church was pretty full, maybe not quite as full as when his daughter died 4 years ago, but still pretty full.
I get a bit introspective at funerals…wonder what people will say about me, that kinda thing. I loved the Paul-stories that were shared. His sisters and brother shared — priceless humor. His wife wrote a letter…the “Norwegian foreplay” line was priceless. His son David shared — heart grabbing and humor. His mother rose to her feet and shared. One of her best lines about Paul was that when he was young, she was afraid that he wouldn’t make it long in the church because “Paul liked to have more fun that some of the Bible churches we went to…” And then his dad spoke and finished with the line… “We hate to lose him, but that’s just the way it is.”
Now there was more than humor. David touched a lot of lives. But there was humor. I love humor at funerals. I’m considering asking Brian Regan to speak at my funeral. It’s said that when King Herod (of Bible fame) knew that he was going to die, he had community leaders throughout Jerusalem put in jail with orders for the execution to take place on the day that he died. He wanted to make sure there were tears in Jerusalem when he died. I want to make sure there is laughter.
I think…if we really believe Paul’s (the apostle) words…”for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If we really believe that this person has just won the lottery of life, has just won the jackpot of joy, has just won the trophy of all treasures…there should be huge amounts of joy at the funeral of a Christian. And joy opens the doorway for laughter in the midst of grief.
Yes there is grief, but the grief does not overwhelm us because a funeral is like an airport. Your friend just got on a flight for paradise and your flight got delayed…but you’re headed to the same place and you know that you will see him in a short time (relatively speaking). But the airport is not our home.
But here is the clincher…I think there will be more room for joy at our funerals if we live for Christ before we get there. I don’t think that Paul’s statement was an either-or statement. I think it was an if-then statement. If I live for Christ, then my death will bring me great gain.
So go live your life for Christ…don’t worry about gain now…you get that later. Live for Christ as you work. Live for Christ as you love your family. Live for Christ as you live in your city. Live for Christ as you have fun with your friends. And if you ever come to my funeral, (not today, but someday) I hope you come with a smile on your face, ready to laugh.