Memorials for those who have died typically don’t engender a sense of anticipation; sadness, loss, and grief must be dealt with by those left behind. There’s also the confrontation of our own mortality.
We had the distinct privilege of attending a memorial recently that was the antithesis of heavy grief.
It was hopeful.
One of our dear friends recently lost his father, and this was a celebration of his dad’s life.
It began with a eulogy by the pastor who actually was a good friend of the departed. He shared intimately his love and respect for this man, his words filled with years of the wonder of the relationship. He spoke of the impact this man had had on his own life because of his character and love.
He knew Jesus and shared Him gladly with those he met.
So often we’re put off by people who claim to know Jesus and yet live lives unimpacted by the goodness of the Lord. Hypocrites aren’t valued; they live differently than how they speak. When we do find someone who lives their faith out loud, who loves with the wholehearted compassion, kindness, and humility of Jesus, it makes a difference.
People see how we live.
This pastor explained how his friend had left so much more than an inheritance for his family; he’d left a legacy. An inheritance is what you leave for people–stuff; a legacy is what you leave in people–character and positive influence.
Everyone who spoke mentioned the love and compassion they received from this amazing gentleman. Even his grandchildren lauded his character, love, and presence with them, how he made them feel valued.
When our friend got up to speak, his love for his dad was evident. Their relationship had its normal ups and downs, but he never questioned his dad’s love for or commitment to him.
He reminded us that we all have a beginning and end. Gravestones are stark reminders that our time here is brief–two dates separated by the dash. It’s what we do with the dash that matters. How we live in the time we have that makes our lives matter.
It isn’t our wealth, achievements, the stuff we’ve accumulated, or the monetary investments that will matter after we’re gone. Our impact is measured by how we’ve influenced lives with hope and love.
The Apostle Paul wrote as he was nearing his death how he had approached life knowing Jesus.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8a
This picture is the precursor to the Olympic games, which began in ancient Greece. Paul chose to stay the course, not quit before the end, but continue to give his best efforts for Jesus.
Life is worth fighting for if we fight for what lasts, what matters. Investing in eternity by knowing God changes us from the inside out. He gives us the power to become more like Him in how we care for others and what we value.
It also means we need to pick the right fight.