October 30, and I’m sitting at a funeral from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m.
My daughter’s coach died quickly of cancer.
He was only 47. That’s how old I was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m ten years out now, but funerals make you think.
He was a well-liked man, well known for being boisterous and generally good natured. He was a tall man well over six feet, and hard to miss on the softball field.
There were probably seven or eight people who stood up and spoke about his genuinely good qualities, of how much he was loved and how much he would be missed.
The last time I really got to talk to him, we were on the softball field during a tournament, at night. I don’t really remember how we got to talking . . . but as usual, the subject of God came up, and he was asking the usual questions.
One thing was for sure: he knew that he was a sinner and that he wasn’t saved. His wife was, his kids were, and he knew he should… but something kept him from it. He knew that he needed to get his heart right… but not right now.
I think that conversation had to have been in September. We had conversations after that, but nothing of any significance, and my daughter ended up leaving the team in November.
He was diagnosed with cancer in the spring. He died at the end of October that same year.
Sitting at the funeral, my mind sped back to that night and our discussion, and I wondered: “God, did he really get right?”
There were two seats in the second row that were empty that night, and the preacher said those two seats were where he and the coach were sitting when he prayed with him.
That was the only glimmer of hope I got during the entire funeral, and if you weren’t listening intently, you would have missed it.
But I didn’t miss it. God answered my question.
So much time was spent listening to testimonies about who the coach was, yet the pursuits of his life couldn’t save anyone, and the fact is he wasn’t saved until the end of his life himself.
By the world’s standards, yes, he was a good man. But being good doesn’t buy a dinner at a restaurant, a movie ticket, or a piece of clothing. In fact, it buys nothing but honorable mention.
The truth is if you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have anything. You have no hope, no salvation, nothing.
What really bothered me, though, as I sat through that service, was that Jesus was pretty well absent. Most of the people sitting at the funeral were probably not saved. There was no altar call. There was no general prayer for salvation.
All in all, there was no attempt to get people saved.
Lots of people could have gotten saved that night.
But they came in the dark of the evening and left in the darkness of death.
How could this be?
This was a Christian church and the field was ripe for the harvest. Yet the harvest was lost.
This is what makes me so thankful for my church and my pastors. They know their priorities and it isn’t about political correctness.
It isn’t about making people feel good. It is about life and death, and what better place to point that out than at a funeral?
Not many people think about funerals as a celebration.
But in reality, thankfully, that dead man was more alive than all of us at that funeral.
That dead man was in the presence of Jesus because he was saved, and now he was in Glory – all because of what Jesus did on that agonizing cross, for him, for me, and for you.
Yet there was not one mention of His sacrifice and why it was necessary for anyone to know about it.
A harvest might have been reaped just by pointing out that the so-called living are also dead unless they invite Christ into their existence and receive life itself.
Otherwise they face an eternity of hell. Oops! There, I said it: that nasty four-letter word that no one believes in until death is knocking on the door.
We can count on our pastors to come through in those moments when we can’t because we are tied up in our grief. They do remember the promises, and they do remind us that we are just passing through, and that the whole purpose of this life is to meet Jesus and live for Him.
They won’t let your unsaved friends and family members just walk out without offering them an opportunity at life.
They will go after their darkness with the light of Christ, because they care more for souls than for anyone’s silly opinions.
I was quite angry when I left that church service, and I seriously considered offering to write the pastor a proper funeral service. But God said that is His job. So I’ll dutifully leave it at that. Visiting other Christian churches reminds me how thankful I am for what we have: a vision to see souls saved at every opportunity.
Like Joni Mitchell’s famous old song says, you don’t know what you’ve got… till it’s gone.
May God grant us vision to recognize what we have while it’s still here.