By Mike Gilland
My wife and I just returned from a funeral, held for the father of a dear friend of mine. Though we didn’t know the deceased, we certainly know and love his son…and that is why we were there. I am always moved in my heart in a unique way at funerals, for it is in such a time as death that the celebration of one’s life is most felt and expressed.
Think about it…what is your experience when attending a funeral – what spoke the most to you? I am betting that it wasn’t the deceased person’s wealth or position in his or her company that was remembered and cherished. More than anything, what is usually talked about is the love and kindness that they freely gave, to their family and friends.
Acts 20:35 quotes Jesus in a well-known verse of the Bible, stating that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I heard a pastor once as he was sharing about leaders and their giving. True leaders, as he stated over and over, give. It might have been through the time the was spent together, helping a friend pack his house as he was preparing to move. Perhaps it was because that friend put his or her entire schedule on hold in order to spend time with you at a hospital waiting room. People remember the acts of those whose love was more than mere words – their love was proven by tangible giving of themselves.
That is why that, at a funeral, what is remembered and shared are the things that truly mean the MOST…one’s heart, and love for others, that was given freely during his life. That is what is remembered, and recounted with deep, appreciative emotion.
Funerals also do another important thing…they cause us to pause for personal reflection, perhaps for an inventory. It is a time to ask, “What is it that I am doing with my life? Am I spending my time and effort on the accumulation of material goods? Or am I freely giving away to others from my heart, and from the many blessings that I’ve been given?”
I pray that the latter would be the legacy that we leave behind. If it is, then it doesn’t just mean we died well…it means that we lived well.
Feature photo by Alice Donovan of Unsplash.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Orlando, The Shepherd is heard on WIWA, AM 1270. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.