Thursday, April 12, 2007

Proverbs 10:7

"The memory of the righteous is blessed; But the name of the wicked shall rot."

I once saw a bumper sticker that said "Live your life so the pastor doesn't have to lie at your funeral." More interestingly, this was on the back of a pastor's car. Truth is, we're all going to leave this earth one day. While the Bible certainly provides a guide for how to live your life, God ultimately leaves it in our hands.

Have you ever attended the funeral of someone who was genuinely a wicked person while here on earth? It's a very sad thing indeed. More often than not, most of the attendants are there to comfort the family, rather than to mourn the passing of the individual. The eulogy is short and non-specific, and few people elect to stand up and speak about the deceased.

Contrast that with the funeral of a righteous person. A few years ago I had the privilege to attend the funeral of a good, God-fearing man. Family, friends, friends of friends, and seemingly every person who had ever met him came to say goodbye. The room was packed, standing room only despite the setting of a small town in east Texas. They even had to open the doors and set up chairs in the lobby so that more people could pay their respects. We sang hymns of praise and the pastor (who was deeply acquainted with this man) delivered the sermon with tears in his eyes. While certainly there was mourning, there was also rejoicing that he was finally in heaven with the God he loved and dedicated his life to.

Was this the funeral of a clergy member? No. A great man by the world's standards? Certainly not. He was a farmer in his youth. He never completed school, and wasn't considered a smart man by any standards, but he was wise. When he couldn't make ends meet any longer by farming, he worked on the road crew for the county. He was never rich or what some may call successful, but he loved his Lord and he let that shine every minute of his life. By the time I met him, his physical presence was but a shadow of the man he had once been, but his spirit still shone brightly. In the few short years I knew him, as his health continued to decline, I saw him time and again share the love of God with everyone he met, even this yankee girl from Philadelphia.

When I think about my life and what success means to me, I think of Dalton Melton. When I finally leave this world behind, I want to be remembered the way he is remembered. If I never have the finer things in life, and if no one "important" ever knows my name, that's ok. I just want to leave an ounce of God's love with each person I come across, so that when I'm gone, they'll remember Who I lived for.

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