Stories about people who died after living Godly lives are stories with happy endings. I think about a funeral I attended within the past year. It was the funeral of Dr. Dan Grabill, a former pastor, teacher, high school principal, mission trip leader, and counselor to myself and scores of others over the years. At that funeral, a packed house of well over 1,000 people, individual after individual spoke of how Mr. Grabill allowed himself to be positioned and used of his Beloved, the God of the Universe, throughout his life. It was inspirational to see the ripple effects of a life lived-out with one overreaching goal -- to know God and to make Him known. It was clear to everyone in the room that the words these people were saying were not hollow words. They had seen Christ through him. Mr. Grabill's character mirrored the man that the Apostle Paul had become at the end of his life.
...I am about to die, my life an offering on God's altar. This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting --God's applause! Depend on it, He's an honest judge. He'll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for His coming. --2 Timothy 2:6-8
Wow! What a legacy! To say that one is confident that God will give him a standing ovation for his priorities, intentions, and actions for Him is an awesome thing to express. Without a doubt, I know that Mr. Grabill stood before the Lord with the same confidence as Paul.
Funerals and scriptures, such as the one from 2 Timothy above, inevitably lead me to start thinking about what my funeral will be like one day (hopefully not any day soon). What will people say of me? No one ever makes negative comments about the recently departed at at funeral. In fact, the reality is that the truth is often stretched during eulogies, creating a semblance of a meaningful life. Have you ever been at a funeral where you had to take a second look at the shell in the casket to make sure the speakers were talking about the person you had actually known? Did you say secretly in your mind, "He really wasn't that great of a person"?
Will the speakers at my funeral be able to speak honestly about me when I die? My prayer is that my life will have significant ripple effects for the cause of Christ, much like the ones created by Mr. Grabill. Man, I don't want to waste my life so that people have to strain themselves to find kind things to say about me as an obligation of kindness to my family.
In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan makes the statement, "The truth is, some people waste their lives. This (statement) isn't meant to bash those who are gone, but rather to warn those who are alive." This statement refers to believers who have not lived-out their destiny of being and preaching the gospel. A.W. Tozer once was quoted as saying, "A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy and God's heaviest grief." A Christian, one who has been saved by grace, can actually live a wasted life -one that doesn't center on anyone but himself.
God is teaching me that my greatest concern should not be for others to say glowing things about me after my demise. My primary concern should center around what God says about the condition of my heart and the works I did for Him while I was alive on earth. When I die and stand before God one day, the hollow compliments of those left on earth won't matter at all. What will matter most is the TRUTH. Before God, my worldly reputation won't matter at all. All that will matter at that point is the reality of who I am and what I did before the God of the Universe.
Paul speaks of the day we all will experience; the day of our earthly death, and our judgement before All-Knowing, and completely Righteous God:
"His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." --I Corinthians 3:13-15
I don't want to squeak by and get into heaven by virtue of the "fire insurance" that I attained at the day of my salvation. That would indicate that the efforts of my life and the time that I spent on earth was largely wasted. I, too, want to be "poured-out" like Mr. Grabill and the Apostle Paul. I want to live an unselfish life that serves others and leads them to a relationship with the all-knowing, all-powerful, omniscient God of the universe. My natural tendency is to do the opposite, but I know this: With prayer and constant reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to make me something that I am naturally not, I can live a life that wasn't wasted. All that matters is knowing and letting others know our King and God. I am most concerned with what He will say to me on that day.