I returned home last week with just enough time to prepare for a funeral being held at Dallas Bay for one of our sweet senior saints. This lady had fought a brave battle against cancer and had finally been called home to rest. After a meeting that resembled a celebration more than a funeral we loaded up the cars to head off to the graveside service several miles from the church. Ir was during that long slow ride behind the hearse that I was able to observe how my fellow man responds to death.
For as long as I have been doing funerals I have known vehicles passing in the opposite direction to pull off the road and pay their respects. Unfortunately for some people it is at their passing that they finally receive the respect they are due. What I have started to notice is the disdain of many who choose to ignore this social norm. I noticed as cars swerved into the turning lane and sped away as they were stopped by the car in front paying their respect. Some of those who were unencumbered by a stopped car sped by the funeral procession without looking our way. Still more noticeably winced and placed their foreheads against the steering wheel if they were moments short of being able to pull out in front of the procession.
I guess thaey are expressing emotions we all have toward that day we will be taken in a slow ride in a hearse. Some people are angry because on occassion an event happens in our life that causes us to pause and consider our own mortality. We would rather curse those who do give it some thought as we speed off to some earthly appointment. Such people forget that we all have an appointment we must keep. "It is appointed unto man once to die and face the judgment."
Those who look the other way and speed off are hoping that by staying busy and looking the other way they will not have to consider that all of our lives are but a vapor. They appear for a short while and then they vanish away.
Still those who try and get in front of the procession but fail are forced to watch as the hearse drives slowly by. We all will have to face our own mortality in one way or another. It may be the death of a parent, a friend, or a national tragedy like 9/11, but we will all have to come to grips with the grim reaper.
How do we deal with death in a healthy way? The same way Jesus instructed His disciples to do so. "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me." (John 14:1) You prepare for death by aaccepting its inevitable arrival. The disciples were forced by Jesus to pull to the side of the road and consider His passing. He would not let them turn away or get in front of Him. Thomas said, "Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?" (John 14:5) They had not gone that way before, but Christ assured Thomas when the time came he would know the way. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) To prepare for that day we first learn to follow Jesus in this life. We can't act like we will be the first to be exempt from the pain of death. That's not what Jesus meant when He told us not to allow our hearts to be troubled. His advice was "You believe in God, believe also in Me." That's the only way we can face that day ahead for all of us with confidence. How about you my friend, do you believe in God?