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At the Halfway Point…What’s the Point?

At the Halfway Point…What’s the Point?

The Funeral

I didn’t even realize it was my first funeral since Dominic, until the moment I sat down in the pew. Then I all of a sudden, in a grief-wave rush, very much realized.

I guess I just didn’t even think about it – the whole, “You haven’t been to a funeral, yet. That just might bring up some grief issues” thing. It’s been two and a half years, and, in spite of a miscarriage and still not having any more babies, I’m soldiering on fairly decently. Or so I thought.

His name was Bill. He died very suddenly, having been in excellent health, and he was close to the age of my father. Friends in our church for years, he and his wife and family were – his daughter was the reason I ended up choosing my alma mater, after staying a weekend with her at Carson-Newman College. We just lost his wife about a year prior – and I hadn’t been at the place to be able to attend her funeral. This time, grief didn’t even cross my mind…

I just wanted to be a part of acknowledging this wonderful man’s life – to have a role in celebrating that he – that his life – mattered.

Instead, I ignited a firestorm of grief I didn’t know had been smoldering.

We sang the same song I sang at Dominic’s funeral – Great is They Faithfulness. My Dad did the eulogy, just like he had for Dominic. I flashed back to the tiny white casket at the front of the sanctuary with the body of my baby inside it, and how I couldn’t even walk into the room to see him, that day, without collapsing.

I flashed forward to thinking of losing my Dad, who is so near Bill’s age – and how one day it will be me sitting at his funeral. I haven’t had enough time with him. I will never have had enough time with him.

Who will do his eulogy – my father, he who does everyone else’s?

I was struck with this jumbled cacophony of thoughts and emotions, all centering around loss and sadness and brevity and meaning and purpose and eternity.

“For with much wisdom is much sorrow;
as knowledge increases, grief increases.” Ecclesiastes 1:18

This life is just so very, very brief.

I listened to remembrance of a life well-lived – of a heart that grieved for his beloved wife, a focus that centered around his family, and a soul that was devoted to the Lord. Those little idiosyncrasies – he loved Dr. Pepper and peanuts – that punctuate the uniqueness and beauty of this special, one-of-a-kind life created and sustained by God, the world here will never again be able to enjoy. His children, though now adults, no longer have a mother or a father – no longer can feel the love of their parents or learn from their wisdom.

There is so much sadness in loss.

Yet I think of him, hugging his sweet Mildred, locking eyes with Christ, and being welcomed into the world for which he was ultimately made…and I find myself a bit jealous.

I wish I could be there, too. That place where I will get to hold my babies, where there is no more pain or longing, where my heart’s desires are completely and overwhelmingly satisfied, where my purpose is clear and all I experience is meaning, love, joy, and fulfillment.

The Half-Way Life PointSee Luminosity Dominic-1465

Bill’s funeral simply brought to the surface ponderings that have been swimming around for some time, now. I am, at 40, at the probably-somewhat-halfway-point of my life. And with that milestone comes a shift in priorities – an existential reflection and reevaluation of, well…

Everything.

“When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11

The questions thrum:

  • Who am I, now, at almost 40?
  • What have I accomplished that really, truly matters for eternity?
  • How am I using this life I have been given?

What would people say of me, if my funeral were tomorrow?

I fear the answers.

“Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life…” John 6:27

I increasingly see both the singular importance of things of eternity, and the ways my efforts have gotten lost in the things of here. That the only true meaning – the only thing that matters – are those things that bring us to righteousness, to transforming our sin character into the nature of Christ.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

At my funeral – will that be said of me?

Or will it be…

 

  • She was able to engage in a great Facebook debate.
  • She kept to her schedule like a clock.
  • She had an opinion about everything, and shared it vociferously.
  • She fought for traditional marriage.
  • She took a lot of photos.
  • She always knew she was right.
  • She was good at painting furniture.
  • She read a lot of books.
  • She was really against abortion.

Ugh.

I want to matter – in His eyes.

“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. 32 Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:31-34

It’s not just about monetary things, but at the same time it definitely is about monetary things. It’s about all of life – where our daily energies, focus, and efforts are directed. It’s about what matters to us, what we think about, and what upon which we spend our time, talents, and resources. And, increasingly, the older I get, the more I want mine to be expended only for things of the Kingdom.

Yet, each year I am more aware of just how far short of that goal I fall.

See Luminosity cemetery 2-1456What’s the Point?

“A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’ 21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

I read this parable and I am struck – not stuck in the “sell your possessions part – but struck by the focus. I read this parable and feel like it should have the title, “What’s the point?” Sure, this particular example addresses monetary, financial well-being, but the question – the intent – is the same for all aspects of life.

What’s the point?

Whatever we’re building, whether it’s a corporate empire, a home, or even a family – what’s the point, if it all just goes away in an instant?

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind… “ Ecclesiastes 1:14

The funeral, my losses, turning 40 – they all point me to the truth Ecclesiastes unveils: things under the sun, or of this world, are not lasting. There can be no ultimate meaning in any of it, because every bit of it has an end. Isaiah said it eloquently:

“The grass withers, the flowers fade
when the breath of the Lord blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.”

There it is: things of this world fade like grass, but things of eternity last forever. Everything here is just so very…brief.

It has become crystal clear to me, at this point in my life:

“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

The problem is making it happen.

I want to see Christ in every moment of daily life – every drudgery, every seemingly insignificant detail. I want to focus more on serving and less on trying to get what I want. I want to find my relationships – especially those close family ones – as an opportunity to exercise righteousness. I want to be defined more by my love than by my stances. I want to use less and give more. I want to hear the Lord daily and respond with “Send me” to everything He asks.

The time is short…and could be so much shorter than I even think.

“Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2

What will be said of me, when my funeral comes?

I do not know. But I do know that now, at this somewhat-halfway-point, I care more than I ever have about what the answer will be.

Not that I spoke wise words.

Not that I wrote insightful truths.

Not even that I created a beautiful family.

I pray that what will be said of me are the words of Micah 6:8:

“She acted justly,
She loved faithfulness,
and she walked humbly with her God.”

And only God knows how many more days I have to make it be so – Lord, help me make every moment count.

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