Every traditional Southern woman knows you wear a black dress to a funeral. Many of us Southern woman, like myself, even have one or two appropriate for a funeral black dresses already hanging in our closets.
Today I put on my black dress this morning anticipating the funeral I was going to attend today. I was going to pay my respects and greet my long time sorority sister and friend with my condolences for the loss of her brother-in-law (I bet she refers to him as brother in love). I did just that at 11am at Coastal Community Church in Charleston.
After briefly seeing my friend outside I went into the Church. I took my seat and began looking over the order of worship and the songs chosen. I thought to myself that it was going to be a nice service, but I underestimated how I would feel after it was over.
The man who has departed his earthly home that I was glad to have known, even just a little, was described as a trailblazer, a soulmate to his wife, a talented musician, a wonderful Daddy, a man who dearly loved Jesus, but most of all a man “who walked The walk, not just talked The talk”.
I learned that he had a horrible accident back in high school that sent so many electrical bolts through his body that he should not have lived. God had a special plan for his life. Determination set in for him and the normal six month recovery was lessened to a short six week recovery of his two amputated legs. He later became an inspiration and motivator at the Burn Unit at MUSC.
One of the most fascinating things I learned about this Jesus-loving man was his letter writing and those “letters in a drawer”. It was told that when he was frustrated, perhaps angry, and needed to tell someone the words he felt he would first write it in a letter. Those letters would then be stored away in a drawer. If he still felt like words should be shared with that person after the letter was written and stored he could then do so with grace and love.
The likeness was explained that God writes our transgressions, failures, and disappointments on letters to his children, us, but then he nails them to the cross where they are forgiven and forgotten.
This really spoke to me as maybe I can just write letters before I use my tongue in a way that isn’t pleasing to the Lord. Proverbs 12:38 says: There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Then if I do need to talk to the person about the offense then my I hope my letter provides clarity, love and grace when I speak so that I may be the wise person that brings healing instead of malice much like Ephesians 4:29 explains: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Speakers close to him went on to tell stories and tell of his earthly work. From what I heard I know he left a rich and deep legacy to his family and friends. He touched so many lives and whole heartedly loved Jesus. One person semi-jokingly said “There are people who brighten a room just by leaving it.” He went on to say that he brightened a room just by entering it. He was an introvert and not at all the attention-seeking type but you just wanted to hear him speak and be in his presence when he was around.
There are so many things I could say about this man and his family including the reason the color purple was important or why they celebrated “Champagne” Thursday but I’ll spare the details for those that did not know him.
I might have come in my traditional black dress but left the glorious worship (the most beautiful memorial service I’ve been to in awhile) with a sense of comfort, renewal in Jesus, and the desire to leave a legacy to those around me. An opportunity to live the rest of my life as a devoted follower of Jesus; giving others the opportunity to know and love Jesus so that they too may experience the greatest gift – eternal life with Jesus.
I want to remember the words of 2 Timothy 4-8:
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
My personal prayer: Dear Lord walk with me all of my days in this earthly life. Guide me to the opportunities to share Your gift of eternal life that you sent your Son to give us through his painful death so we when we die we will be free of pain and suffering. Stand beside me so I can kept the faith and finish the race to eternally celebrate with you. Help me to hold my tongue, from being a destructive weapon, even if it means writing a letter until I can speak truth with grace and love. Let me be your good and faithful servant and leave your legacy on many hearts when my race is finished. Amen
Postscript: I purposely omitted the name of the deceased in order to not publicly share details of his life and family.