A young man who grew up a few houses down the street died suddenly last week. The life that led to his death at 34 did not leave us being totally surprised at the news, but at the same time totally sad.
The next afternoon, after I paid his mom a visit, she asked if I would do the graveside service the following Thursday. Of course, I would. They were neighbors, after all. Her son and mine had been boyhood buddies. And (unlike weddings) I don't turn down funerals if at all possible.
But I wrestled over the days leading up to today's service. What would I say? Nothing that I was aware of indicated he had found forgiveness and everlasting life through Christ. His life (as far as I knew it) was full of the sad choices he had made. I'm not one to give hope where I believe there is none, or to "preach" someone into heaven. Yet I knew I had to say something to bring comfort to his mother and 12 year old son.
This morning I opened up the condolences posted on the site of the funeral home. Lots of sorrow. Lots of "in a better place" and "another angel" things. Many fond remembrances of a young man who was kind, polite and if he could be, helpful. I expected those comments.
But then this one came up. And it lifted a tremendous burden from my shoulders.
I remember spending “Sonrise Service” with you this past Easter at the
Ocean front…that was good! I know for sure there is no pain where you
are and you wouldn’t come back here if you could – I thank Jesus that
you are with him – that you took the steps to accept Him as Savior.
That was the best news I could have received today, and just an hour before the service. I was able to say to the crowd assembled that he was in heaven, not because he was kind and polite, but because earlier this year he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. There was the hope we all needed.
And I shared with them that they, too, could have that same hope.
Thank you Lord, for letting me read those comments in time. Thanks for opening his heart to the Gospel, and for someone who shared it with him in time. You know how great I felt hearing that testimony and then being able to share it. May it bring others who perhaps have no hope to Christ.