Saturday, January 31, 2009

A life well lived

This morning I attended a memorial service celebrating the life of an old friend. I haven't spent much time with Danny in a couple of decades, yet his quiet, positive, and humble spirit always spoke volumes when we did cross paths.

Danny was just 57, but an aggressive opportunistic cancer kind of snuck up on him and his sudden death took absolutely everyone by surprise. However, as is always true of people who own a deep, authentic, faith, he was more than ready and his passing simply confirmed his living testimony of grace and practiced peace.

I was struck by the significant impact a life can have when it is lived in real faith - honest, committed, authentic, trustworthy, true. Several family members talked about a man whose testimony spoke volumes in terms of living, a man who followed Jesus but who seemed to waste very little time on the talking part. He was open about his Christianity, but people could be around him and they would understand the truth of the gospel without being assaulted, condemned, button-holed, manipulated or guilted into the kingdom of God.

That beautiful story was told eloquently by his brother-in-law, his son-in-law, his sister and a poignant series of pictures from Danny's faithful life. No-one could have listened and failed to have been touched by the truth of such a compelling and foundational faith. That's what made the endless rambling altar call that followed so disappointing; nothing about the loosely connected talk had the ring of truth so evident in Danny's life. The message was already clear - it was obvious why Danny's life had such meaning.

Fortunately my niece, Hannah, concluded the memorial service by singing "How Great Thou Art." She sang beautifully and from her heart. It was the exact invitation people needed to receive; it was the invitation to know the kind of God whom she loves, and the invitation was both clear and true. It's a message we simply must stop fouling up, both in the church and in our everyday lives.


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