This past weekend Peter and I attended a beautiful memorial service for a friend and peer whose life was invaded by cancer. It’s the third such event we’ve been to in the last year. When anyone, but especially when someone in my circle of age-mates, passes on it causes me to stop and think — about life, death, relationships, what’s really important, and what’s not.
Dan, Lynn, and most recently Teresa, were all people who loved Jesus and to the best of their ability lived for Him. So ultimately their lives were not lost when they left us here. They’re now with the Lord, more alive than ever before, and awaiting that resurrection day when Jesus returns to establish His final Kingdom here on earth.
The church on Saturday was packed out. The service lasted for almost 3 hours . There was sadness and there were tears. But the worship, dance, testimonies, photos and videos were bursting with Teresa’s love for Jesus, love for the people around her, and love for the life she’d been given. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman of God who knew the importance of letting Jesus’ love shine through her. She lived her 58 years to the full! So there was much thanksgiving and joy even amidst the sorrow.
The Bible tells us about many qualities and gifts that we’re meant to nurture in our lives. The greatest and most important of these is love.
God himself is love. Love casts out fear. Love covers a multitude of wrongs. Love brings people together. Love conquers evil. Love fashions us into a closer representation of our Father.
That’s fine you may say. But when all is said and done, what’s the big “take-away”?
For me, it’s like Teresa’s mom said at the memorial service: love God, pray more, and love the people in your life. Nothing else is more important or more rewarding.
So, as I told my son in our skype conversation yesterday afternoon, when I see him next I will be holding him a little closer, hugging him more tightly, and telling him “I love you” more often. The same goes for my other children, their spouses, my husband, my grandchildren, my parents, siblings, friends, and even folks I don’t know too well yet.
I’ve been reminded (again) to love people more, and things less. Even (and maybe especially) when I don’t like what someone is doing or the decisions they’re making, I still need to put an arm around them and tell them I love them.
Whether we’re 3 or 30 or 60 or 90, we all yearn to love and be loved. It’s the most basic need of humanity. It’s how God has made us.
Jesus himself left us with two great commandments: Love God and love people.
If we can do this, not perfectly but faithfully, with everything we have and are, then we ourselves will be with the Lord when this present life is done. What’s more, we’ll also experience the profound joy of bringing with us the only treasure we can ever take into eternity: other people whom Jesus, through us, has loved into the Kingdom of God.
That’s the biggest take-away of all time!