In the last two months, I’ve attended two funerals. Each time, I was there to love a friend well; one who lost her mother, one who lost her husband. It’s incredibly difficult to lose people we love, and although I continue to grieve the loss alongside my friends, I somehow walked away from each celebration of life encouraged.
I grew up in a home where we didn’t talk much about faith. Or at all. We went to church for that. We went every Sunday and every religious holiday. We looked very put together. We got dressed up, said our once-weekly church prayers, got our dose of Bible, donated our weekly offering and went home – back to regular life and without much thought about what had been preached.
And we were “good people.”
Because that’s what we wanted people to know about us. That’s what we believed. We thought we could be good enough. And, we certainly weren’t bad…so that made us good, right? That was the thinking.
Well intentioned, but not based in truth.
What I’ve learned since then is that we can never truly be good enough. And that’s okay. It’s the EXACT reason why Jesus was sent here to die for us — because our Creator loves us and knows we can’t be perfect. He knows He made us human.
But…Jesus could be perfect. He could lead a sinless life. He could be both man and God. He could pay the price for us, because He didn’t have a debt of His own to pay.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Jesus could pay our wage.
And He did. He is enough. It is done.
When we know and accept this truth, it changes our lives. Not only does Jesus release us from penalty and give us the gift of Eternal Life with Him in Heaven, but He also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to reside with us and empower us in our daily lives. Together with Him, we can have productive, fulfilling lives; ones that produce fruit.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
That was the prevailing theme in these two funerals I recently attended. They each honored people who had lives marked with tremendous fruit.
Story after story was shared about intentional conversations with others, hours of service, dedication to family and lives changed because of how they allowed the Lord to work through them.
These people were not just church-goers. They didn’t just look good. They dedicated their lives to the very One who saved them. They were purposeful in reading their Bibles, studying God’s Word to know Him and how much He loves them. They had regular conversations with Him. They knew Him and His will for their lives. They experienced His love, and it flowed through their lives to others.
They desired to be used for His glory and Kingdom. And it showed.
When I say that these funerals were “celebrations of life,” I’m not kidding. There was much to celebrate. These people loved the Lord and were so willing to be used by Him, and they were, indeed, used by Him. Person after person shared how they were led to Christ, loved sacrificially and strengthened by their example and encouragement.
The stories were countless. Amazing. Fragrant with the aroma of Jesus.
And the celebrations were real. Not only because these people lived lives of great purpose, but because everyone was completely confident about where they are now. In the arms of their Beloved Savior. There was no question.
They had received the gift of salvation, the grace of Christ, the love that bubbled over in their lives onto others. They didn’t love others to look good or to earn or gain anything, but because they were so close to their Lord and received so much love from Him, it had no choice but to overflow from them.
Every person who spoke their name also spoke the name of Jesus in their lives. They simply went together.
Isn’t that inspiring?
It’s made me pause, reflect and question:
- How’s my intimacy with Christ?
- Am I receiving all that He has for me?
- Am I fully availing myself to God for His purposes?
Ultimately, I’m asking myself, “If I died today, would my faith be so evident that people would naturally connect my life to Christ?”
“How might I be creating obstacles? How might I allow Him to mightily and fully use me?”
It gets me so excited to ponder these questions, friends!! He made all creation, breathed life into all mankind, and powerfully used some of the least capable and most awkward people for His glory.
He can most certainly use me! You too! Everyone who desires to be used!
And it would please Him. (Yes, take that in…)
Wouldn’t it be just the most beautiful thing ever if Jesus was our legacy? If our lives were so open to Him, that He so fully and powerfully used us that people had to speak His name when they spoke our own?
Oh, Lord, make it so…
“Take My Life and Let it Be” by Frances Havergal
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.