Don’t Wait

The first funeral I remember is one I didn’t go to. I don’t know if my parents decided I was too young or if I was given the choice of going and decided to opt out. I do remember what I spent the service’s time doing while I was waiting at my aunt’s house: I read a book called, “Rascal,” by Sterling North. Wonderful book, but I digress.
For as long as we have records to tell us what humans have been up to on earth, we’ve had rituals associated with death. Christians believe a person’s afterlife experience has everything to do with whether the man or woman asked for forgiveness of their sins and committed to a relationship with Jesus Christ. But even within the Christian faith, funerals and memorial services vary greatly in style and tone. What’s true of an Irish Catholic service is not for an Irish Protestant. What’s true of Greek Orthodox is not for the Southern Baptist, and so on and so on. Any way you slice it, these celebrations of life can be tricky affairs for our emotions to handle. The grieving process involves pain, even when the person we’re saying goodbye to left a long and fulfilling life. If we’re not ready for them to go, or if the hole left in our life seems impossible to fill, the trauma can take a lifetime to resolve, if it’s ever resolved at all.
It may sound trite, but I’m convinced how we handle death has a lot to do with how we handle life. What I mean by that is, if you had told your loved one all the ways they had contributed to and enriched your life, if you had told them not just that you loved them, but why, would it make dealing with their passing much, much better? Beyond that, and beyond whether it would be a good thing to do, isn’t it absolutely the essential thing to do? I believe it is.

If I didn’t say, loved one, how much I love you,
if I didn’t say how much and all the whys,
if I put it off till all of our todays ran out,
would there be too much pain to say goodbye?


If I didn’t lift you up
when you were discouraged,
feed you when you were too weak,
If I didn’t give you the words
Jesus said were most important,
when the time came to say goodbye,
how could I speak?


Sometimes in life we see death coming,
but too often it comes
and we didn’t know.
Since we might not see tomorrow
the people we care for today,
let’s not put off the loving words
that we owe.


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:1-7 ESV

©Joel Tipple 7/6/2019

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