Lately I’ve been thinking about my own funeral.
No, I don’t have plans to end my life, and I do not have a death wish. Whatever discouraging thoughts of depression or self-harm I may have wrestled with are usually chased away by the morning sunrise. I used to dwell on the fatalism of death by exposure, or I had this fantasy of going out to Montana and handcuffing myself to a tree at the top of a lonely mountain and throwing the key just outside of reach… and waiting to die.
But these days, I have a life wish. I want to experience all of the voltage of breathing and laughter and music and chasing my dreams! I want to feel the blood in my veins pumping adrenaline as I clap with the Exodus Family in the Rock of Ages. I want to melt with my daughters as we sip hot cocoa on a wintry day, and reminisce on the sledding hill behind the house. I want to lean into the laughter of their innocence, and remember…
Remember the time my cousin Daniel Cook and I were sledding in the Michigan snow. We were both young boys finding our way…There was a collision with a tree and knot on his forehead; and we sat together in the snow and cried until my mom came out to see what was wrong.
Remember the time I almost drowned in Lake Michigan, after an autumn storm. Waves crashed into the pier and I tried to rescue my puppy, a purebred Black Labrador who had been swept off into the waves. I thought I was going to die, but I could not watch my puppy drown without a doing something to help! We both eventually collapsed on the beach, exhausted. But it was the best. feeling. ever.
Remember sitting with my dad at a coffee shop in North Carolina, and hearing him share about the mistakes he’s made along his journey. To see how time has humbled him, and after reconstructive knee surgery he hobbles around in a slower pace… reflective of things he would have done differently if he had the opportunity. He would have worked harder to develop a culture of grace, not law. He would have been more aggressive to help, and slower to judge. He would have leaned into the mercy of the cross, and less on the legalism of man.
Remember the time I laid behind the curtain at the Asheville Community Theatre, as the auditorium was filling up with Exodus Revolutionaries, and I took off my shoes and socks before the holy ground. I cried uncontrollably in recognition of the sacredness of the moment: restoration and redemption has reached into the brokenness of my heart. So when I stand to preach about hope and forgiveness and the God of 2nd Chances – it’s coming from a place of personal experience.
I can’t help but to wonder what my funeral will be like. How will I be remembered? The truth is, funerals have a way of immortalizing the man in the casket. Our culture tends to deify the dead. I hope that doesn’t happen at my funeral. I want honesty to prevail in the eulogy. I want those who know me the best to say, “He was a very broken and flawed man, who clawed his way toward the cross. He was more likely to let his ego get in the way of relationships, and he carried bitterness in his heart. But that is why he was so desperate for Jesus, and so passionate about preaching this gospel! He was often lonely and discouraged, but he was also the first to reach out to help his friends, and he would have taken a bullet for his family.”
I want to be remembered as a loving daddy to my girls, and a flawed but faithful husband to Jamie. I want to leave a legacy of gospel proclamation and a life of sacrificial love. At the end of the day, nothing else matters…