It sounds crazy and if you have never stopped for a moment to realize the impact of your own immortality. As we get older, so many of us have stared death in the face, and we have changed. When I was growing up, people would talk about getting old, but we were so blessed in our family and so very few times in life would people would actually expire. Family members just kept living and living and periodically, we would suffer a tragedy, but not often.
In recent days, I have met so many tragic lives where the story is so completely different. The loss of innocence took place so very young, childhood was never fully understood as a result. This week, I spoke with a friend who was put in prison in elementary school for "life" for putting five people in a coma, who ran prison systems and was one of the most violent gang members who ever lived. He had eight brothers and sisters all who had different dads and he never knew his father. These are the kinds of people who "have" seen their own funeral, many times.
My life was different tho, and so only later in my life would I begin to understand truth. When utopia has a tendency to set in to a format we believe equals our destiny, the surreal and powerful impact of loss awakens us to something more. Lessons learned are many but being able to articulate those truths and move to a higher level in life just isn't easy, in fact its very hard.
Our question today is simple....Have you ever attended your own funeral?
This means taking the time to visualize and experience the end of what your own life would be. Did you see the ramifications of your life, the legacy you are going to leave and the truth in what you are facing being imminent. Sure all of us have heard, "One out of one dies" but I don't think we think about this very often and many of us go into denial and don't even want to discuss the reality. Family members of mine don't even go to funerals so how could they consider this?
When I went through my stroke in January having understood what was truly happening the overall impact was profound. However, this is truly just now becoming more "present". In fact, losing my mother had a greater and more negative impact than even my own stroke. Losing her dwarfed my own illness, but it brought about a truth regarding loss, bereavement and more. While I had gone through a tragedy, I had not faced my pending death.
Trying to "analyze" and figure out where someone goes when they die, why we had to say goodbye to soon and how do we cope in the loss of a parent, spouse or even child is one of the most devastating realities there is I do believe.
Its been said if six people die, its a tragedy, but if 6000 people die, its just a statistic. Do you see how dangerous it is in our world to realize loss, mourn and intercede for those who are in pain?
I remember a memorial service in a home of family members remembering the love shared by a beautiful woman who had lived an amazing life. A grandmother whose legacy lives on today and through the tears, there was a calm, a joy and a happiness in the middle of sorrow. It is surreal now to consider. Equally I remember the total devastation I was not prepared to accept in the loss of my mother and while others were able to have joy, I had none. One woman was expected to leave a full journey realized while another was more unexpected.
Different funerals bring about different emotions don't they? However there is one truth which all funerals I have attended, and this is the key emotive word...GRACE. We all need grace when we lose someone close to us but there are times our anger, our bitterness or our state of mind might impede this and even thwart the results. Its not easy accepting grace when we are struggling, even when it is all around us.
So I saw my funeral before me and realized there were so many things left undone. There were many words I had wanted to share, but hadn't. Finding work which needed to be done, logistics when needed to be planned and the future so uncertain was concerning. The rush of urgency had filled my mind and heart and then, there was a stark realization. Because of this, I am trying to be different and more attentive, communicative and sensitive.
What I had to remember was this...God still loved me, He still knew my pain and was sending comfort to my broken heart. God cared for me and for every family member and friend in my life and it was more apparent, His love. I misjudged my own funeral's real impact because without Jesus Christ in my life, I would not be able to even go on and move forward. Suddenly, it was not about religion, it was about relationship. All those silly things that I deemed important were not.
Please stop today and consider the future, the relationship you truly have with Him, not just for "presentation" but for your inner most heart. Remember to pray for those in need, for those in pain and for those who are hurting because the future is filled with fear. Get together in community and be with other people who love you. Your life matters more each and every day. Never underestimate the power of your words and continue to live in love, even when those around you may not be in the same place.
I love you more than you know,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.