I know exactly which of the two it is….but, seriously, there are times that I wonder. As a kid there were a couple of my classmates that were killed in accidents, another one or two that died from vicious diseases. Joe Wingo, a ranch kid, was flying his kite when it got tangled up in some electric wires. He climbed up on a tank with a metal rod to try to untangle it when he was electrocuted. Joe Glenn Crane, just about the sweetest kid you’ve ever seen, was healthy as could be in the first grade….but by the third grade he’d contracted Muscular Dystrophy and was confined to a wheelchair. Both died before they were in junior high.
I was broken hearted both times; didn’t understand. Their funeral services were devastating for me. So, early on in my life, I subconsciously developed an attitude that would cause me to avoid funerals at any cost, no matter whose they were. It worked for me for a long time, or at least I thought so. It wasn’t long after I began doing ministry that I was asked to do my first funeral. I immediately thought, “No Way”! But the deceased person was the Granddad of a close personal friend so I felt like I couldn’t say no. I was serious in prayer with the Lord because I knew that I couldn’t do it without His help. I made it through the service just fine but didn’t really care if I ever did another one or not.
Well that was about 28 years ago and since that very first funeral I’ve done in the neighborhood of 360 more. Here’s my struggle; I can’t separate myself from the feelings that the family members of the deceased have. You’d think that after that many funeral services it’d get to be pretty routine. Not so for me. In fact it might be a funeral for someone that I don’t even know. I’ll get emotional just about every single time. When little grandkids come by the casket after the service is over and they’re breaking down with tears…..it’s about all I can do to contain myself. In some strange way it’s as if I’m feeling exactly what they feel. In fact about ten ears ago I did a service for a daddy and his little boy whose vehicle was t-boned by semi truck. It was hard and I remember driving from the church to the cemetery (about 15 miles) and telling the Lord, “I don’t want to do this anymore”. It was if the Lord spoke immediately my spirit, “Andy, you don’t have to do it anymore….but if you do I’ll give you a greater anointing to do it.” Well, here I am today…..still doin’ ’em!
I think Jesus was like this. It appears that He so identified with the feelings and the emotional state of people that he literally felt what they were feeling. There hasn’t been a funeral yet that has felt ‘routine’. Every single one is somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s dad, or somebody’s little girl. My next one….a little 16 year old boy, only child, a good kid that suffocated in a grain trailer. I’m already feeling what the family is feeling. I think I’ll be able to comfort and console them because of it.
It’s not a curse…..I know it’s a blessing. It just doesn’t feel like it a lot of the time!
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