Thanks Be To God
The first time I knew what he looked like was when the funeral home sent me his picture, along with the obituary I was recruited to read. His family brought his body back for burial after he lost a lengthy battle with cancer. He was eighty-seven years old. My role in the memorial service was minimal. Nevertheless, I wept.
Allow me to explain. I don’t always cry when I preach a funeral. This is especially true when I do not know the person whose funeral I am preaching. I have done a lot of funerals through the years and have become less emotional than I was when my hair was thick and black. Things that troubled me then don’t bother me as much today. It is not a bad thing when Christians go to heaven.
But it can be a sad thing for those who remain on earth. As I visited with the family before the service, I discovered many things I had in common with their eighty-seven-year-old patriarch. He loved to quail hunt. He used Brittany bird dogs and shot a Browning A-5. His middle name was Earle and his son-in-law was named Rex. He married the love of his life and stayed married until he died.
That is where the tears came in. His wife was an insulin-dependent diabetic when they married, even though he did not know it at the time. He provided top-notch care for her throughout the entirety of their marriage. It lasted nearly 62 years. His wish had been to live one day longer than she did so he could care for her all of her life. His wish did not come true.
The diabetes had limited her eyesight. She was seated in a wheelchair during the funeral. When she was pushed by the casket to say her final goodbye, I heard her say, “I love you.” Then she requested to be pushed up closer so she could feel his face one last time.
“Oh, his head is so cold.”
Her short sentence prompted my weeping. He was not there, and she would be left to live out her days without his assistance. It broke my heart, even though I did not know them. One day they will see each other again. Tearful separations eventually become joyful reunions because of the victory Jesus won over death on behalf of all who believe in Him.
Thanks be to God!