Would my funeral be about me, or a God of wonders?
A death in the family got me thinking ...
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have lost loved ones or know someone who has lost a loved one. But somehow, besides having to adhere to the regulations in place to limit the spread of the virus, my life was not really affected. However, that all changed when one day I received the news that my aunt had passed away from COVID-19. I felt very emotional about her death and visited my grandmother to tell her how sorry I was that she had lost her daughter. She explained that my aunt had been ill for a long time before she got the virus and she was prepared for death, and said that she would like a very small funeral with no fuss. She was a believer and wanted Jesus to be honoured.
That set my thoughts going: If I became seriously ill and was told by a doctor that my death was imminent, what kind of funeral would I like to have? What would I like people to say about me? There is no doubt that there would be good things to say. I have experienced that even at the funerals of people who have not been particularly well liked, something good was found to say about them.
When I reflect on my life, there are certainly good deeds that could be dug up to mention at my funeral … How good I was to my little sisters when I was young, my regular attendance at church, how much I have helped without expecting anything in return, my hospitality and generosity, my empathy for the weak and vulnerable, and so on. Yes, I thought, these are the things people would be able to say in the setting of a perfect, traditional funeral with photos and candles and gentle music playing in the background.
Suddenly I was filled with such a terrible sense of dread and emptiness – I would hate an empty funeral like that! The verse in Isaiah 64:6 came to mind: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags,” and gradually the feeling of dread was replaced by a spirit of zeal as I considered the incredible miracles that God has done and is still doing in me.
God truly has created something new in me. This wretch, who could not even give someone a cup of water without expecting credit, with honor-seeking being the underlying motive behind all my good deeds. In His mercy and love God started to show me all these things, which made my good works like filthy rags. I began to get a longing to see more of myself and developed a hatred for the evil that He revealed in me through my daily circumstances.
From somebody who had no faith in having victory over irritation and anger, God has given me the faith that it is possible to overcome these sins and He has trained my hands for war and my fingers for battle against this ungodliness (Psalm 144:1). He has given me His Spirit when I pray so that I know what to pray for. He has sent situations to test my faith, and a tested faith is far more valuable than all the gold on earth. He has given me His Kingdom already while I still am on this earth. My treasures are stored in heaven where God and Jesus are, and where no one can come and steal them from me.
Yes this would result in a funeral full of content that would help others. It would not be about me, but actually about the God of wonders, who has created something new in me which would have been humanly impossible. To get victory over sin and to let the death of Christ reign in my body, is to me, the most important thing on earth.
I thank and praise God for the work He has done in me. I want nothing more in this world than for God to continue to work in me. It is the only thing that has eternal value and it is possible!
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:15.
Suggested reading: What might your epitaph say?
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.