The line for visitation wrapped all the way around the sanctuary, looped through the pews, down the hall and, someone even said, back to the church office.
I had never been to this church before, but even I knew the church office was a long ways off.
Hundreds of people came to pay respects to one man. A husband. A friend. A hard worker. A veteran. A man who loved to cut wood. A man who loved Jesus.
Mr. Charles. He was Mamaw’s friend. I didn’t know him well, but I knew him and his wife well enough to know this about him…
He was a man who loved Jesus.
He and his sweet wife of 60 years had been good to my grandmother. When mom was sick, they were there for her. When momma died, they were there, too. Such good people. Visiting mamaw several times since her move last summer. Her new home up the road from me.
He was a man who loved Jesus.
The funeral ran long because it started late. Those hundreds of people wanting the chance to hug his bride of 60 years. To hug and cry with her. To encourage her. To pray with her. And view the body of a man who loved Jesus.
It was after nine when I got home, Brent was wiping the counter, standing at the kitchen sink as I came in the door.
“How was it?”
“So good. I know it sounds odd, but I wish I could go to a funeral once a week. Just to keep a firm grip on reality.”
“Seriously,” I said. “Funerals will keep you sober. Because when it is all said and done, someone is going to sum you up in about 30 minutes. If that long. I want to live a life aware of that fact. What will be said over my casket?”
I hope the message spoken at my funeral will be as impactful as the words at Mr. Charles’.
The pastor spoke to us all, but mostly to his wife. The wife of sixty years. He looked at her from the pulpit, square in her eyes, and said, “Miss Jane. Your husband’s life mattered. To all of us. Charles lived a life for Christ. His life was for the Glory of God.“
A man who loved Jesus.
Pastor continued, “I’d like to read a passage from Scripture, Miss Jane. A passage that, I feel, describes well the life of Mr. Charles.”
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD
and on his Law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does he prospers.
Psalms 1: 1-3
A “life that was lived for Christ” and a Psalm 1. That is a powerful life.
How would my life be summed up? Honestly?
Some days it would be, “Miss Becky. She was a nice lady. But a bit impatient. And self-absorbed. But wow, in her thirties she could run an 8-minute-mile. And was amazing at mentally keeping track of her caloric intake. She didn’t even need an App for that.“
Some days it would be, “Miss Becky. She was a happy gal. A fair cook. Who served her family and those around her… most of the time because she loved them, but often for recognition and a big pat on the back.”
Or “Miss Becky. She was a sweet thing. She sure did love her husband. Even though she snaped at him often and was quite stingy with grace. But overall, she was a pretty good wife. Most of the time.”
And a passage from Scripture. What would be read? I’d like to think that Colossians 3:12-17 would be mentioned or maybe bits of Proverbs 31. Even a little Galations 5:22-25.
I’d like to think.
But reality is that some will hear the voice of Jesus retell his words in Matthew 7. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Matthew 7:21-23
And arguably worse, one would hear the Lord proclaim Revelation 3:16...
“Because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Dear. Heaven forbid it.
Lord, let me be summed up in the same line as Mr. Charles…
“Miss Becky, she lived her life for Christ.”
Because when the receiving line has moved through and the hydrangeas are displayed atop my casket, the pastor will stand at the pulpit and have about 30 minutes.
What will he say?
Lord, today let me live a life of sacrifice and selfless service to You. A life of meaningful relationships. Of love. Each day for You. In every single facet.
Sweet Mr. Charles. The man who cut wood. He met Jesus last week. The Jesus he loved.
What a legacy.
A legacy that will carry on. His life still making a difference…
Even now, in my own.