Friday, 1 August 2008

Thoughts on a Funeral

I attended the funeral the other day of a friend from church. I found it very moving, but not for the reason one might expect. Henry was a wonderful Christian and every believer among his family and friends was confident he was with his Lord even as we met. His brother gave a tearful and heartfelt message including an invitation to anyone present who wanted to know about Jesus to approach him and ask him. Pastor Terry presented the gospel clearly, including, if I may quote from my memory, this memorable thought,
"If you have not accepted Christ as your Saviour and acknowledged him as Lord, this life here on earth is as close to heaven as you will ever get. If you have done so, this life is as close to hell as you will ever be."

What moved me most was that there were unsaved people there, including from within even the immediate family. My heart aches for those who do not yet know the Lord, especially if they are in the families of those who do. My heart aches even more when I realize how little I do about it.

My own most fulfilling time in this regard were the years I was involved in the Alpha course, several years back. I saw many people come to faith through its clear presentation of the gospel message. And more often than not, these were the friends or loved ones of the believers in our church, because that's the whole basis of the course. Believers bring those they care about to dinner to introduce them to someone who will tell them about Jesus. Like Philip to Nathanael, even those uncomfortable or unable to give a full explanation of the message of Jesus Christ have only to say, "Come and see." And I saw many guests, whose eyes were opened during and Alpha course, realize, like Nathanael, that Jesus knew them, even when they were not even aware of Him.

We ran a couple of Alpha courses in our home when we first came to Edson. The last time I distributed about fifty invitations to the supper around my neighbourhood and had zero responses. After that, I'm afraid, my enthusiasm lapsed. Several months ago we listed our house here in Edson, feeling that it might be God's will that we move back to Edmonton. The listing has now expired. So I am here for a while yet. Perhaps it's time to try again.

I hope this post doesn't sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself. Even I have the sense that it might and that I am. But I am convicted about just how lousy a job I myself do in communicating the good news of Jesus to others. It's not that I am unable, although with all the wonderful thoughts in my head about what to say, somehow they disappear like vapour when I actually have an opportunity to say them. It's not that I am unwilling. I yearn to be able to evangelize, but again, when the opportunity arises I seem to become verbally stunted. I could write an essay, but I can barely speak a broken phrase. It's not that I can't, then, it's not that I won't; it's just that I... well, I don't.

This may seem an abrupt way to end this post, (it seems so to me) but at the moment I can think of no more to say except to pray, "Lord, forgive me and help in my weakness. Please help me to recognize the opportunities you give me to tell others about you, and the strength to do so when you do."

For Christ's sake


stauf46 said...

John, I appreciate your comments - and can identify.

You reproduced the quote well. I didn't say who I stole that from at the funeral (that would have been distracting - that's my excuse, anyway). I heard that about a week ago listening to Randy Alcorn preaching about Heaven at the "Resolved 2008" conference. It struck me, too, so I remembered it at was glad to use it at Henry's funeral.

BTW, the Refocus 2008 messages are now up. I think you'd particularly appreciate David Short's message (#3).


The Nicky said...

John, I too identify with what you are trying to express...I have had (and continue to have, with alarming frequency) moments of opportunity when I feel that a particular person has been placed into my life at that moment, that I may be a witness to them about the Gospel of Jesus; and I miss the moment!! I stutter and stammer, and bail out of the encounter, so afraid of botching the job and turning this person away from the truth of Christ. This sound s like a terrible excuse, but that is close as I can come to what I feel t those moments. I also pray that God will grant me the clarity of thought to tell what I already know and believe, and do so in a manner which brings Him glory. Then I have to sit back and wait for the next chance to come along.