#96 What I Said At My Father’s Funeral

#96 What I Said At My Father’s Funeral

My father, my sweet Daddy, has been gone one year now today. I’m still picking up pieces of my heart, but I do have so much to be thankful for: my healthy, growing girls; the loving relationship I have with my step mom who is still across the driveway and doing well; and my husband, whose love for me has surely been put to the test this year, and yet he continues to treat me like the girl he dated.

Waves of grief make me silent. I don’t reach out to friends or family much, I don’t go over and talk to my step mom, and I don’t usually talk to Randy about it. They just wash over me, leaving me unsure of my footing and a little scared. This stage of life is, in many ways, a blessing. I have so many things to do and precious little people to take care of, so hunkering down and letting the waves crash over me isn’t really an option. There is food to get to the table. There is laundry. There are dust bunnies. There is my 2-year-old staring intently into my eyes, learning the tune and words in her perfect little lisp as I sing “Amazing Grace.”

At my mother’s funeral 20 years ago, the five of us – my three brothers and dad – read verses that meant something to us. I will never, ever forget my father choking through the words of Proverbs 31. At my father’s funeral last year, my brothers and I wanted to honor him by doing the same. Two brothers read Bible passages that were meaningful to them, and another read a letter from one of Daddy’s lifelong friends who couldn’t come to the service.

I debated with myself about what to say. What did I want to say? I wanted to read a few verses and get the heck back to my seat. But I began thinking about my father, the man who would embarrass me by working some kind of sermon into everything he said. He officiated at all three of my brothers’ weddings and worked a little into his comments. He would call me in Eastern Europe and pretty much preview his next Sunday School lesson or sermon. He managed to work the gospel of Christ into everything, whether or not his daughter thought it was appropriate.

I decided to just lay it out there: the blazing, uncool, politically incorrect, and wildly simple gospel of Christ. With a few pauses taken when I thought I couldn’t stand there another second without curling up in a ball right there on the floor, here is what I said:

My father would not want you to be here today without understanding the gospel of Christ. I know that the pastor will undoubtedly share this gospel with you, but I’m afraid that you might dismiss it as comforting words for a grieving family.

Please understand that the gospel of Christ is not cool. It is not politically correct. It might make you uncomfortable, for great love does that sometimes.

And here it is: We are part of a much greater story than what we see here today. God our creator loves us with a love we cannot imagine. There are checks and balances in the universe that are difficult to understand, but when the man and woman who God created fell, we became separated from Him, and he loved us too much to leave us there. So Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice with his own life so that we could be with him. The gospel is about nothing if not love.

I am a believer. I know that this, the gospel of Christ, this great story, can test the limits of logic and faith. And yet, I believe. And I know that my father believed. He didn’t believe it because he wasn’t intelligent or sophisticated, because we all know he was both of those things. And he didn’t believe it because it was simply expected of him by his family or culture. In fact, he ran far away from the gospel until the weight of fathering a family came to rest full bore on his shoulders. At just 28, at the birth of his first son, my father felt the responsibility for providing for his family materially and spiritually. He looked inside, he searched, and he found this gospel, this great story, the love of Christ.

If you know my father, you know that he didn’t commit to anything halfway. He didn’t start things he didn’t finish. So when he committed his life to Christ, he committed his life to Christ to the very last breath. He pursued Christ through Bible study, service, ministry, and the love he offered to all of us.

He wasn’t perfect – nobody knows that better than one’s children. But he understood grace, which is the last thing I want to tell you about. The love that God has for you is so great that there is nothing you can do to escape it. Nothing. Whatever I’ve done, whatever I will do, nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.

You can think I’m crazy. You can think my father was uncool. That’s OK. But on this day, at this time, you must understand that the gospel of Christ, His great love for you, is very, very real. More than anything about him or his many accomplishments, my father would want for you understand how very much you are loved. And the love of Christ makes for the very best life story there can be – one like my father’s.

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