What I Pray People Will Say at My Funeral

I spent my Friday and Saturday attending two visitations and funerals, both for deeply beloved family men who died earlier than expected. I also had several volunteers whose friend died last week suddenly and tragically. Death makes you think and evaluate. That’s what I did the past few days, and I learned something I want to pass along.

One of my greatest fears has always been that I’ll die and no one will care. No obituary, few flowers, and a sparsely attended funeral service attended only by those who felt obliged to be present. I’m sure part of this fear stems from my sinful ego and vanity, but part of it contains at least some nobility I believe. You see, if no one took note of my death I figure that would reveal that I lived an insignificant life which didn’t merit attention. I hadn’t contributed much to society, I hadn’t been a good father or husband or friend, and I hadn’t been a good steward of the opportunities and talents God had given me.

That fear picked up a stiff competitor today. I think I’m now more afraid of having a funeral full of people who admired me for unimportant reasons. They would show up only because I was funny, rich, powerful, beloved, influential, or well-known. Don’t hear what I’m not saying, there isn’t anything wrong with any of those in and of themselves. But I can be all of those and not have loved Jesus. I can be all of those and not have preached the Gospel. I can be all of those and not have been “salt and light” to the world.

And here’s my problem: I naturally have a much stronger drive to be funny, rich, powerful, beloved, influential, and well-known than to love Jesus and preach his Gospel. So left to my own devices I’d likely have a funeral that would validate my new greatest fear.

So starting today I have two simple goals. Two things that when I die, I pray that people are able to say about me.

That I fought to love Jesus. And that I fought to help people love Jesus more.

From now on I’m going to try to keep those as my focus. I’ll know I lived a day well or not based upon how I can honestly answer those two questions. Did I fight to love Jesus? Did I fight to help people love Jesus more?

And my word choice of “pray” isn’t coincidental. I know that if I am to succeed at this new goal I am fully reliant on God and his power in transforming my heart. I need Him to do what he promised to the nation of Israel in Ezekiel 36.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

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