What a funeral taught me about life

Bill looked like a man who was standing on the side of I-70 as a car raced by him at 80 miles an hour. He shook his head looking down as if to get over the shock of what had just happened.

“I can’t believe how fast it went,” he said.

Bill wasn’t talking about a Jaguar on the interstate, he was describing 63 years with a wife he would bury today.

Life really does pass by in a flash
63 years is 22,995 days or 551,880 hours. That’s a lot of hours until I realize I just blew through one of them writing this blog. Was it worth it?

Bill met Mary in high school and they were married right after. They lived long enough to have many kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. And yet today in a little funeral home Bill sat shaking his head like he couldn’t believe how fast life blew past him.

I cannot escape the reality that life will pass faster than I thought. How will I live today? How will I love today? Will the slideshow of my life be full of good things?

“If I speak in the tongues  of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” -I Corinthians 13:1

Some moments are worth slowing down for

Vigo County has more than 200,000 people in it. I doubt more than a couple thousand knew the woman we were burying today. Yet as our funeral procession drove to the cemetery dozens and dozens of cars pulled to the side of the road to pause and honor the dead. I like this, it is a good thing to stop and honor someone who has passed.

I think it’s also important to slow down for special moments in life. Since life will pass by in a flash I need to think carefully about what things I need to take hold of and look carefully at. It is as if somethings I need to catch mid air as they are whizzing by and look at them and hold them for a moment.

  1. I need to spend more time hugging on and loving my daughters while they’re still young.
  2. I need to slow down and cherish the joy of time with my wife rather than rushing to clean or get something done.
  3. I need to spend time in prayer to remind myself of things that are eternal.
  4. I need to make time for dinners with friends and lots of laughter.
  5. I need to pause at times to remember great moments so that I never forget.
  6. I need to make sure that I am more of a person who lives life on purpose then I am a busy person.

Death happens for real and not just in movies

It was the first time I had ever seen it. I got to stand there with the family and watch the casket be lowered into the vault and the vault in to the grave. It’s curious how death becomes more and more real the closer to the ground your loved one gets. Watching that man crank the winch to drop the vault 6 feet down was a humbling moment.

“I’ve told my family that I want all of them to throw the first shovel of dirt on my grave when I pass” the man beside me said. “I want them to remember that death is real and a part of life.”

It is so easy to just run through life not thinking that you will die someday. Yet I will and so will you. It’s funny that I don’t think about it.

I need to live life with the reality that I will die someday. I need to be intentional in how I love and in how I lead. I need to live and leave a legacy every day.

I like with Steve Jobs said:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” -Steve Jobs.

I love what king Solomon wrote:

It is better to go to a house of mourning

than to go to a house of feasting,

for death is the destiny of everyone;

the living should take this to heart.
-Ecclesiastes 7:2

Conclusion

I hope that as I drive away from the cemetery I won’t soon forget the life lessons I learned at a funeral. Life will fly by in a flash so I better slow down and look carefully at the things that are important. I must not miss the reality that I will die someday so that I seek to do what is truly important.

To God be the glory!

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