On Saturday I traveled to Davenport, IA to say good-bye to a dear friend. It saddens me that I hadn’t seen him in years. It always seemed that we just missed each other as we would travel back to our former homes in Illinois. Over the last several years he was been battling cancer, and the last several months he body could no longer fight the disease. To make matters more difficult, this same family lost a baby a little more than a month ago. As I sat and listened to the eulogy given I was moved to tears… I couldn’t help it. But, my tears were not of longing or sadness or sympathy. I was overcome with love. A love for this man and for this family. They have always been a source of great faith for me and on the day I had to say goodbye he again showed me how to live my to its fullest. The funeral was as he was… God centered. The funeral was as he was… always glorifying God. And as I sat there, I began to realize what missing in my life the last year.
For those that have followed my blog this past year I have hinted at a variety of issues that have plagued my home. My wife had a miscarriage to begin our year. (I have never been more heartbroken that I was that day). By February we learned what specific ailment my mother-in-law has. While there was comfort in knowing what it was, there was also great discouragement in knowing what that meant. And then the last couple of months our little church here has seen its fair share of sorrow. Aunts, grandmothers, grandsons, cousins, etc have passed away. Sorrow is something that we have come well acquainted with.
For me, personally, it was really starting to get to me. As I sat there and listened to my dear friends life story. How he came to the Lord, how he raised his kids, interacted with others, and most importantly, how he handled his cancer a light switch went on in my heart. I finally realized why I was struggling so much in recent months. I realized why I was so unhappy.
Phil. 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice.” How can I always rejoice? How can I always be happy? How can I go to funeral after funeral and think this is a good thing? How can I look at a family that has buried their son, their daughter, their father and be rejoicing? I fear years have misunderstood this passage. Paul is not saying that it is wrong to cry, mourn, etc. He is saying that the reason for my joy should always be God. As I look back on my friend’s life, as I looked at those pictures of him celebrating life, it dawned on me. He celebrated life because of God. His life, his death, and his funeral all of it was God centered. And that is what was lacking in my life… a God centered joy.
Thank you Jack. Thank you for everything. And thank you for reminding me one last time of what is most important.