Poem: “O may I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence; live In pulses stirred to generosity, In deeds of daring rectitude...” ― George Eliot
Good morning and welcome. I bring you greetings on this Thursday, February 18, 2016. When we were in Louisiana for Bro. Milton's home going service I heard our youngest son telling his wife how that people in the country used to almost always bring their deceased loved ones home to await their funeral service and burial. That's right. Inside their home. He told her he remembered seeing his Uncle Kenneth laid out in the living room of his home. Her mouth hung open. She seemed totally shocked. That's how we were raised up. Death was an ever present reality in our family and in our community. Our son also told her about how folks used to go and sit up all night long with the body. I can remember going with Paw Paw many times to do that very thing. What did we call it? I know some call it a wake but we just said we were sitting up with the dead. It was a sign of respect. It was a sign of support for the family. I notice a determined desire among families today to shield children from being exposed to anything related to this kind of experience. Sometimes that even includes relatives. I can't tell people how to operate their lives but for believers death is a vital part of our eternal life. ("....absent from the body, present at home with the Lord ..." (2 Corinthians 5:8) There was never even a hint of anything morbid, but for me growing up, Bible truths were emphasized in how we country folk embraced the passing of those going to their final reward. Practices do help to shape one's views. They really do.
I'm not saying that everything we did in the past was better. However, we all could learn much from what is typically called old fashioned ways. Folks who were not known for their sophistication or even perhaps their great knowledge did have a simple faith in the Lord God of heaven that defined their day by day living. It was their foundation. It led to a sense of honesty and integrity in all areas of their lives. In other words, faith in God was integrated into every area of life. Today we tend to compartmentalize every aspect of our busy lifestyles. We have our family life, our working life, and our religious or church life. My grandfather was known to be a man of his word. I've heard people say about him that if he told you something you could take it to the bank. Others said his word was his bond. That's a good principle to have in your life. However, in my grandfather's life it was grounded in his faith and in his desire to live in a way that would be pleasing to God. His life was not chopped up into segments. He was not always right but he was almost always genuine. A question was asked last week in one of the services of our local fellowship. "Did you come today reflecting the real you or did you show up with your Sunday version of you?" That's a tough one for us all but it is worth reflecting on. Amen.
No. I hadn't been waiting to write about what I wrote about today. I sat down and chose what was behind door number three and this is what I found. I have discovered something over time. Often I write about stuff that needs to be very much considered by a particular individual. Who am I talking about? The same fellow who opened door number three. That's right. "It's me, it's me, it's me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer." I know some folks who really do think they have arrived. To me that's a very dangerous situation to be in. What was that the Apostle Paul was inspired to say about his own journey? "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14) Knowing I am a work in progress with a long way to go helps to keep me in a proper frame of mind. At the same time, knowing that He's still working on me, well, that my friend is a blessing. A blessing indeed! Amen. .....More later.
Many years in this sojourn here on planet earth and I have the scars to prove it but I have been, am now, and will be blessed to have had the privilege of doing what little I've done to honor God and serve others.