I’ve done, in the neighborhood of, three hundred fifty funerals over the years. I’ve never been able to separate my feelings from the feelings the family of a deceased loved one has. That being said, they are all pretty taxing on me, every one of them. It’s just one of those things that I believe the Lord has wanted me to do.
I had one a few years ago for a dad and his little boy whose pickup got hit by a truck. Another one for a dad and his two kids that burnt up in their house. Those really took it out of me. I clearly remember driving to the gravesite after the funeral service. That day, I’d had all I could take. I told the Lord, straight up, I didn’t want to do funerals anymore. I felt like I heard him clearly; “You don’t have to do them anymore, but if you do I’ll give you a greater anointing to do them.” That was ten years ago and I’m still doing them. (did one today, in fact)
But I had one a couple months back that was, maybe, my greatest challenge yet. It was a funeral service for an atheist. I had met John (name changed to protect the family) several years before when he and his fiance came by my office for me to marry them. He told me that day that he was an atheist and that he didn’t want to talk about the Lord. I said, “OK, but if you ever do want to talk about Him, I’m your guy.” He agreed. We never had that conversation. I found out later that as a little boy his dad would take the Bible and shame him and condemn him with it. In my mind it turned John away from the Lord.
I got the call about doing John’s service. His wife’s family is a very special family to me. I met with his wife and we talked about the service and John’s wishes. I thought about it for hours. What would I say? I just kept coming up empty. I didn’t sleep much the night before, still weighted down by the task ahead. As I walked out of my house the next day to drive the 40 miles to the graveside service, the Lord spoke clearly to my spirit. “Andy, John’s life mattered.” He had a bout with drugs earlier in his life and took it upon himself to get free, which he did. He made it one of his life projects to help anyone who was wanting to do the same, which he did. He had three sons who he was a great dad to. He was a good husband to his wife, as well.
There were a hundred people or more at the graveside service. The attitude of most everyone there was extremely somber. I said what the Lord had spoken to me, “John’s life mattered. It mattered to his wife, it mattered to his boys, it mattered to the ones he helped to kick the drugs. His life mattered to God!” I said, “Most everyone here knows that John’s convictions about God were different than most of ours’.” I continued, “I’m glad that I’m not responsible to be the Judge; we’d do well to examine our own selves and leave the judging to God.” “But there are a couple of things I’m a hundred percent certain of, God is fair……and God loved John very, very much!”