Thursday, March 01, 2007

Remembering Those Who Have Died

This week has been an unusual week of reflection for me. My wife was flipping through the pages of my college alumni magazine and on the back page was a brief obituary of a dear friend of mine. Keith Snyder was a pastor in St. Louis. We went to college and seminary together, drilled each other on Hebrew words, debated theology, competed over grades and ate a lot of popcorn during some lean years in our early 20’s. Keith had a malignant brain tumor that had responded well to surgery and chemotherapy but in the end his body just couldn’t hold out.

As a pastor he was in the public view. Many witnessed his battle with cancer. His friends and church members not only got to see someone live well but die well.

This is in the same week that my colleague, Jerry Chambers, lost his father in a horrific car accident in Nashville. Jim Chambers was 71 years young, still in love with his sweetheart of 47 years, and thoroughly connected with God, family and friends. He began following Christ at a young age, served God all of his life and died well. Over 500 attended his memorial service to testify of their love for Jim and the impact he had on their lives.

Those that know and love Keith and Jim celebrate their lives. They are now in the presence of God experiencing His glory and the wonders of heaven.

Meanwhile I open USA Today and find out that Anna Nicole Smith will finally have her memorial service Friday in the Bahamas. We’re told that she’ll be buried in a custom made gown next to her 20-year old son in front of about 300 attending. Of course all of the media will cover the story and give more commentary about the unusual life of Ms. Smith.

One day I’ll be leaving this world. One day you’ll be leaving this world. We don’t really get to choose that date of departure. Will we live and die well?

If the Bible is correct that this world is temporary, a place where we just pitch a tent, and that the afterlife is eternal, where we will live for all eternity, then there is nothing more important than using this life to prepare for the next. I’m not sure Ms. Smith was prepared. She experienced a lot of attention and celebrity in this life. Millions recognize her face and know something of her story. I’m not very optimistic about what’s next for her.

In contrast, Keith and Jim lived in virtual obscurity. Their departure from this world had no TV cameras, tabloids or talk show coverage. But the reception they received on “the other side” was so brilliant, spectacular and joyous it would make the New Year’s Eve fireworks at the Space Needle in Seattle look like a child’s sparkler.

My cyberspace friend, today’s post is an invitation from God for you to reflect on matters of life and death.

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