January 5, 2017
I saw a recent Facebook listing entitled “Four signs of high intelligence.” The first one was, “A messy, disorganized desk.” I have come to the inevitable conclusion that I must be brilliant! I can’t tell you how much comfort this has brought me along with a certain sense of self worth and… well… superiority. So to all you “neat-nicks” out there… enjoy the limited intellectual fruit of your labor.
Wow… now that I got that off of my chest… J
I don’t know how many funerals I have done over the years… too many to be quite honest. If I never have to do another one, I’ll be okay with that. That being said, I have learned many things about the death and dying process and the business associated with it. One thing that might overshadow all others is this; making important decisions in the midst of a crisis is not the best way to operate. Funerals are by nature a crisis and last minute thing most of the time, but the planning of them doesn’t have to be. This is not a commercial for funeral homes, but those people that make prearrangements take a great deal of burden away from their families. I can’t tell you how many… sorry but… “dumb decisions”… I have seen families make because they are flying by the seat of their pants while in a crises and with no experience.
Occasionally I will get asked something like this: “Grandma wanted us to (fill in the blank) as part of her funeral but none of us feel comfortable with that. What do you think we should do?” Generally I say something like this, “The funeral is for the living not for the dead. You need to do what is best for your family. However… if you cannot deal with the guilt of not doing what Grandma wanted… then you probably need to do what she requested.”
Well, this rumination is really about making decisions in the midst of crisis. I suspect most of us would agree that it is not a wise practice, if at all avoidable. So, why do we do that when it comes to our views of God? For too many, it seems they keep God in their hip pocket until something really great happens and they give Him the credit, or something dreadful happens and they blame Him. So they come out of those occasions with a God who either really loves His creation and blesses them… or they come out of those instances with the perception that God is awful and doesn’t in fact care about those whom Christians claim He loves. Why do we do that?!
Can I suggest that we come to some understanding of who God is NOW so that we are prepared for blessings and “curses?” Christian author Phillip Yancey says “develop your faith in the good times so that it can carry you through the hard times.” A harsh way of saying that is, “Don’t come crying to me about God when something bad happens, if you have not done the hard work of coming to understand God NOW.” I’m not saying that there will not be faith challenges in the midst of crisis. I am only saying that you will be better prepared to deal with them if you have some framework for understanding and knowing God.
Imagine for a moment the worst set of circumstances that you can think of in your life… (I know I don’t like to think of these things either)… diagnosis of terminal cancer, the death of a spouse, the death of a child or grandchild… Now imagine your thoughts of God in the midst of those things. Seriously. Where are you? Is God an aloof, uncaring tyrant? Or even in those things is God the sovereign (all controlling) God of the universe who does or allows things to happen for His own purposes and still needs to be worshipped?
I know these are immensely difficult things to consider. I mean, thinking of the unthinkable is not where our brains want to go. But I implore you to consider your theology of God NOW and not wait for a crisis. Years ago I knew a man who was Mr. Church Guy. He was raised in the church. He was a pillar of the church. He was respected in the faith community where he worshipped. BUT in his later years he developed an eye problem that caused blindness and took away his independence. At the same time his wife grew ill. I remember sitting in his living room and him saying to me in an angry tone, “’Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.’ That used to be my favorite hymn… but I don’t believe that any more.”
I don’t know how I will behave in the midst of personal crisis. I can only hope that God continues to be my God no matter what. Where are you?
Blessings to you in the journey.