Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life and Death-- Spring and Winter

Spring almost came in March! After I spent a few warm days of cleaning out the flower beds, getting my hopes up for an early spring, winter returned, dashing my hopes. Along with winter, death came to our small community.

We attended a memorial service locally for one of our neighbors who died and had been buried in Ohio. The husband and wife pastor team leading the service acknowledged they did not know the deceased very long, and then proceeded to “preach him into heaven!” Because he loved his children and had pizza parties for his grandchildren, “he was a good man– I am sure he is enjoying the love of God in death.” A new believer in our church was disgusted– she knew the deceased well and knew he was not anywhere near being saved.

The next funeral was for the last “Bean” of Bean Settlement where we live. He was 95, had lived a godly life, and his consistent message– to his dying day– was, “It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus!” The preachers leading the service testified to his godliness and constant encouragement to others to know Jesus.

The third funeral, two days later, was for a man who was a member of the Lutheran church, a Ruritan member, a leader in the farming community who befriended anyone he met, and who was instrumental in introducing us to others in the community when we moved here two years ago. During the “viewing” the night before the funeral, over 800 people stood in line– a line that wrapped around the building outside in the cold wind– to pay their respects to the family. 

The preacher leading the service the next day compared the man to country songs about cowboys who loved getting back on their horses after being thrown in a rodeo. He said the deceased loved farming, nature and livestock, and died doing what he loved best– taking care of the cow who killed him! (I lost my first husband in an accident, and it bothered me how casually and jokingly the preacher mentioned how the man died.) Those who gave testimony to the deceased’s friendship included one of his sons, who testified that his dad never pushed him into anything, but always told him what he became in life was up to himself to decide.

How sad! The one man whose life was a testimony to the saving power of Christ had few at his funeral, compared to the crowd at the last funeral. Mr. Bean only had one son, who has only one daughter with two children . What a loss to the world that the godly man had so few children to be discipled and led to Christ! The farmer had three sons, with several grandchildren. Since he worked at Southern States and among the farmers, he met many people during his lifetime. Was his testimony to them, “Be what you want to be,” or was it, “It’s all about Jesus”?

Losing my first husband and then my parents two years later, I realized how uncertain and short  life is, and why we must take every opportunity we have right now to make each minute count for God’s kingdom! Don’t just be friendly– introduce your family and neighbors to the only Friend who is eternal. Don’t let your friends live in perpetual winter– introduce them to the One who bought our salvation and gives us eternal life. Spring is the season of new life– how I look forward to God’s renewing the earth, too!

Hebrews 9:27, 28  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Psalms 30:5  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.