Today I watched the memorial service of the son of my friends. He was their only son. 23 years old; in the prime of his life; taken suddenly from us. One minute here on Earth, the next minute running through the grassy hills of a place called Heaven. His parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends are left to grieve and somehow wade through the pain and sorrow. As Christians, we lean on the family of God that gathers around us and we allow them to lift up our arms that are too tired to stay up; we give ourselves over to the hugs, the handshakes, the arm squeezes, the whispers of encouragement and love, and all of the food that is placed before us. One minute we have tears running down our cheeks and someone hands us a tissue; the next we are laughing out loud and don't quite recognize the sound, but it feels nice. One second a friend is hugging us and holding us while we cry, and the next we are patting the back of one who is crying and needing comfort. It's messy, and sloppy and not very pretty, but its something we must go through. The way God shows that He is our comforter, is through us allowing others to comfort us. I saw that when I lost my husband 6 years ago, and I saw that today.
The friends, family, loved ones, gather in one place; sitting shoulder to shoulder, tissues in hand; red rimmed eyes and choked up voices. That was a perfect picture of my Lord and Savior comforting and healing and touching and hugging His children while they were hurting. That was Him in the midst, walking through the crowd whispering, "fear not, for I am with you", "trust in Me and I will get you through this". Tears are a language that God understands, so its ok to cry; its ok to be sad for the emptiness that is left where that son use to be.
As a mother, the thought of one of my children leaving this Earth before me is almost more than I can bear. A mother and son's bond is so strong and so incredibly special. It must have been so moving for his parents to watch today as each person got up to speak. What an amazing testimony that young man had. Every single person that spoke, had the same theme that resonated in his life. It was this: He loved others above himself, and loved God more than anything. He lived his life for others.
My dad always told us kids that when you live your life for others, you are looking heaven in the face. This young man's memorial service inspired me to want to do better. It made me take note of my life and at times have some regrets that I have wasted so much of it thinking of only myself, and yet encouraged me that its never too late to change. Another thing that stood out to me during this memorial, was that young man was a happy Christian who loved life and lived it to the fullest. Christians should be the happiest people on Earth. Remember, our life on Earth is just a rehearsal of what heaven will be like.
It says in Proverbs 15:13 that "a joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken." The pictures of this young man showed a bright and beautiful smile. His friends talked about his smile and the light that seemed to surround him whether he was walking down the hallway at school, or helping children on the mission field in Peru. I've come to this conclusion. The light is the joy; and when the joy reaches the face, it smiles!
As I wrap this up, I realize that even though the memorial service was sad, and heartbreaking, it was also full of joy, laughter and hope. The sadness is for those who are left to carry on a little while longer. I have experienced that sadness. I understand grief, pain and loss. My dad, my grandparents and my husband have all changed their address from Earth to Heaven. I also know the laughter and joy comes in the memories we have of them. And our hope comes in the knowledge that there will come a day when we will see them again. Until then, we will keep singing. Until then, with joy we'll carry on.