Thursday, October 6, 2011

You keep funeral files on people?! Yep. I do.

This morning a friend of mine stopped me and said, “This may be weird, but I want you to know that if I die, I have a slip of paper in the front of my Bible that has all the songs I want sung at my funeral. I thought you might want to know since you’d be the one doing my service.” I told her that wasn’t weird at all. In fact, it was really good idea. If she wanted to, she could e-mail me the list because I keep file of that sort of thing for folks and I’d be glad to make a file with her name on it. She thought that was weird! “You keep funeral files on people?!” Yep. It may be weird, but it goes with the job. Actually, it goes with life.

If the Lord doesn’t return in our lifetime, all of us will die. It’s one of the most basic truths about life, and yet, a truth we ignore. One time, I was sitting in a hearse with a funeral director and he admitted “My life is funerals and yet I don’t ever think about what I’d like done at mine.” We might wonder how that could be for someone who works with dead people every day, but it doesn’t surprise me at all. As humans, we have this logic defying ability to look at reality and say, “Yeah, but it won’t happen to me.” Just drive by the hospital and look at how many doctors and nurses are outside smoking! Denying death doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We will all die.

A wise person will seek to be prepared. On a very practical level, we can think about what we would like to happen at our own funeral. Making a list of your favorite songs and passages of scripture for use in your service can be a big help to the loved ones you leave behind. On a deeper level, facing one’s mortality helps you to be prepared to meet your Maker. If I were to die soon, what things would be left undone? Would there be sins that needed to be confessed? Relationships left unreconciled? Words left unsaid? Taking care of those things today not only helps you be prepared for your death somewhere in the future, it also helps you to be the person God wants you to be today.

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life. 
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man’s life is but a breath.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
Psalm 39:4-7

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