Attending Your Own Funeral by Bryan Craig
Have you ever attended a funeral and your mind began to wander, thinking of your own funeral? Who will officiate? Who would come? What would they say about you? Would it really be a “celebration” of a life well-lived? I’ve left funerals feeling like I need to up my game and do a better job at impacting the lives of others.
Now, some of you may think that’s some sort of event, way into the future, but as Tony Evans said one time. “Old age is relative. If you are 39 years old and you are going to die at 42, you old!”
None of us knows when it is our time, do we?
David wrote in Psalm 139:13-16:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Yes, none of us is going to get out of this place alive. There is an expiration date. I am 56 years old, and I’ve been considering the years I may or may not have left.
My Dad died a few years ago at 75- 20 years older than me.
A guy who went through my first Journey Group died a few years later at age 59…that’s only 3 years older than me now.
My Grandfather died when he was only 55…Yikes!
A few weeks ago, I officiated a funeral of a 52 year old man who died suddenly in his sleep. Hmmm.
A lot of people in my world have been dying recently, and it has been causing me to pause and reflect. And the Lord has been helping me process this. I’m coming to a few conclusions:
- This life is fleeting.
- We all will die someday.
- What seems important in life is not most important.
- There is a heavenly destination awaiting us- Jesus promised it and died for it.
- And most importantly:
What I want you to know is that if we want to truly abide in Christ, to truly walk in the abundant life Jesus promised, to be sanctified, purified, blessed…we must die. Now, of course, I’m not talking about taking our own life. I’m not talking about a physical death. I’m talking about a Spiritual death. This is the secret to going deeper with Christ.
Oswald Chambers says this:
No one experiences complete sanctification without going through a “white funeral” — the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crucial moment of change through death, sanctification will never be more than an elusive dream. There must be a “white funeral,” a death with only one resurrection— a resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing can defeat a life like this. It has oneness with God for only one purpose— to be a witness for Him.
Have you really come to your last days? You have often come to them in your mind, but have you really experienced them? You cannot die or go to your funeral in a mood of excitement. Death means you stop being. You must agree with God and stop being the intensely striving kind of Christian you have been. We avoid the cemetery and continually refuse our own death. It will not happen by striving, but by yielding to death. It is dying— being “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3).
This, my brothers and sisters, is Abiding with Christ.
As I have tried to challenge myself as to what this Death might look like, I think of a few key areas.
Have I died to myself… in my Marriage?
Am I putting my wife’s needs above my own?
Am I trying to love her the way she needs to be loved?
Am I praying for her?
Am I asking God how to serve her?
Have I died to myself…with my Kids?
Do they know how much I love them?
Do I answer their calls when I am busy?
Do their needs come before my own?
Do I support them even when I don’t understand them?
Have I died to myself… in my Worldview?
Am I still falling for the illusion of the American Dream?
Are the things of this world “growing strangely dim” as the hymn suggests?
Is my identity, my self-worth in being loved by God and being a lover of others?
Do I truly trust God to provide for my needs?
Have I died to myself…with my Time?
Am I keeping myself too B-U-S-Y? A friend of mine says BUSY means “Being Under Satan’s Yoke”- Ouch!
Am I seeking Him first and letting Him add everything else?
Do I have time to be interrupted…for God to call audibles in my life?
Am I, perhaps, still trying to work my way to God?
Have I died to myself… in my Relationships?
Am I angry, bitter, easily offended, or afraid?
Am I holding unforgiveness in my heart?
Am I putting others’ needs ahead of myself?
Do I love others, even if they are unlovable?
Jacob Crouch writes:
Dying for Christ takes a moment of extreme courage and resolve from the hand of God, but living for Christ requires a sustained courage that beats back the devil and the flesh daily. It’s a constant dying. Jesus tells us that if we are to find our life, we must lose it (Matt 10:39). He says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). The Christian is a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), a constant offering on the altar of God.
But this constant dying doesn’t produce death. On the contrary, when we die to ourselves, we finally begin to truly live. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:39). To deny ourselves is to agree with God, that he, and he alone, knows what truly satisfies. It is not food, or money, or drugs, or sex, or movies, or gossip. To know God and his Son Jesus Christ is eternal life indeed (John 17:3).
So where does the strength come for this constant dying? This sustained death will surely wear us out, unless, of course, our strength lies outside of ourselves. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1). Our sacrifice springs from his sacrifice. Because of, and through, the mercies of God, we are able to lay our own lives down for him. Through his Spirit, we are empowered to lay our lives down on the altar of God. The Christian’s sacrifice is not for atonement, but in response to the atonement.
Once again, I believe all of this is part of this concept/commandment of Jesus, "Abide in Me ... and you will bear fruit." The more we are "in Him", "hidden in Him"... He becomes greater and we become less...this is dying to self. And you will be amazed how much He can do through you then. Let your old self die, so Christ can live, and you will be truly FREE.