Living well and dying well
Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 8:01 pm
Life is made up of sacred moments. I witnessed two of those moments this past weekend. We had the privilege of attending a wedding Saturday night and a funeral Sunday afternoon.
The wedding was a happy time. The groom was one of my husband’s former students. He smiled from ear to ear as people gathered to witness his vows. Two hundred people sat in a church sanctuary celebrating the fact that this guy can’t imagine life without this particular girl. The girl felt the same way about the guy. So she put on the prettiest dress she could find and walked down the aisle to tell the world that he had chosen her ... and that she had chosen him too. People cried. But they cried out of sheer delight that the guy and girl had found each other. It was beautiful.
The funeral was a sad time. More than 200 people sat in a church sanctuary grieving the loss of a man who had made such a difference. The slide show of his family illustrated a life that was SO well lived and yet tragically cut short. So we put on our best clothes and sat in the sanctuary while words of comfort were spoken. People cried. They cried because they would miss the man whose smiling image appeared on the screen but whose body was sealed in the coffin before us. It was painful.
Though different, both events were very sacred to me. In our frail humanity, we think we only want happy times ... times like the wedding. But that is not to be. If life is real, it has to have both joy and sorrow. As was spoken at the funeral, “Life is not always a Disney World experience.” Sometimes there are tragedies. Sometimes healthy people get sick and die. Sometimes people put on their best clothes to say good-bye.
Despite the differences between the wedding and the funeral, there were some striking similarities. At the wedding, the bride and groom acknowledged before everyone that only God could make their marriage work. She vowed to love him in the power of the Holy Spirit because she knew that on her own, she would fail. He vowed to love and cherish her the way Christ loves and cherishes His people. They both admitted that they didn’t have all the answers, that there would be bumps along the path, that there would be times they might not like each other very much. But they believed that marriage was God’s idea. They prayed for an understanding of His plan and for His help in the endeavor.
At the funeral, everyone who spoke acknowledged the need for God’s comfort in such a dire circumstance. They spoke of this man’s love for God, for the Word and for people. Even through the tears, they eloquently proclaimed the most comforting truth ... that this present world is not our home. No. God has prepared a better home. Jesus has overcome the grave through His glorious resurrection and has promised eternal life to all who trust in Him. We admitted that we didn’t have all the answers, that there would be bumps along the path. But we acknowledged that life was God’s idea and death was not the end. We prayed for an understanding of His plan and for His help in comforting the family.
This weekend we witnessed a wedding and a funeral. Tiffany Shopher and Jonathan Harrison became one before God and man. Dr. Steve Raines said good-bye to this world and entered into the joy of His Savior. Beautiful.
For more information on Lisa Smartt, visit her Web site lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.16.09