One of the bummers about getting older is that you seem to go to a lot of funerals. It is always a sad time but I have to tell you that some funerals are a lot better than others. Of course for a Christian it is always a comfort to know that the departed had put their trust in Jesus as their Savior. But even that factor does not always make a funeral seem uplifting even in the sadness of loss. I was thinking about that yesterday as I drove home from still yet another memorial service. This service left me with a smile and feeling inspired even though I knew that many would miss this man tremendously. This particular service was for a man I did not know personally. I am a friend of one of his sons and family. So I went and listened to what others had to say about a man I did not know myself.
I knew from the obituary that he was a man of some accomplishment. I knew that he had done pretty well financially. But those things were hardly mentioned by friends and family. I reflected during my drive home on the themes that I heard from everyone about this man. That he was a man who fiercely and loyally loved his family and friends. A man who was giving. A man who was devoted to his wife and even in his last days referred to her as his “lover”. A man who loved life and lived it robustly. A man who loved to sing and shared his gift with others. A man who loved to give and spent his life giving. A man who was happy and made others happy that encountered him. A man who loved Jesus and meant it.
As I thought about what I had heard the riddle of why some funerals are better was answered for me. When you know a life is well lived you feel sadness but no regret that opportunities were lost. A life well lived shows the rest of us what matters. And clearly what matters is not just accomplishment or gain. A life well lived is invested in faith, family and friends. A life well lived values others and changes them. A life well lived serves others and affirms them.
One other thing I learned about going to a memorial service of a life well lived is that it is hard to get a parking place. People are able to clear their schedules for a person who made them feel valued, alive and special.
I hope I am investing in a life that will be evaluated as well-lived. Charlie Williams of Garland, Texas did not make news when he passed away this week. But he did make a difference with a life well lived. And I pray that I can follow his example.