For months after my mom and dad passed away I wanted to tell everyone I saw something about them. I wanted to stop strangers on the street and share what remarkable people my parents were. During those dark, grief stricken days I felt that if I didn’t talk about them all the time with anyone and everyone who would listen then somehow the lives they lived here on earth would somehow be diminished, would be forgotten, and I couldn’t let that happen! See, in my haze of sorrow I had let Satan whisper to me that now that Mama and Daddy were gone, their lives had been meaningless. For a while, I believed and I panicked. It took me a while to remember, to let the Lord remind me in spite of my grief, that they were not forgotten at all, and their lives were certainly not lost. Because of Jesus, they were still alive, and I would see them again one day. Because of Jesus, their lives had counted for eternal things that I could never fully know or understand on this side of Heaven. I had known that truth all of my life, but until I lost my parents I had never been faced with the need to believe it with all my heart.
I think about that each time someone else I’ve known and loved is called home. I’ve found myself thinking about it a great deal this past few weeks. Barbara Smith and Bill Chapman are gone from us, for a time, but the faith they lived in their lives while here on earth not only fulfill God’s promise that we will see them again one day, but the daily obedience they practiced has left an eternal stamp on all of us who knew and loved them. I think about Bill’s capacity to love and his faithfulness to Virginia and his kids through even the most despairing days of Virginia’s illness. That great big heart opened up once again for a new love, and Phyllis shared his life and knew something of his faithfulness. Barbara’s faith manifested itself in a woman who knew what it was to be hospitable to everyone. She was welcoming and gracious to everyone she met, and we were all warmed by her gift for making everyone feel at home. No one was a stranger around Barbara, because, to quote a favorite song lyric of mine, “Love had made His home there in her heart.”
Maybe by the world’s standards our lives are less important than those of the wealthy, the famous, the noteworthy, but I’ve been reminded yet again that God’s standards have much more important consequences. The lives of dear people like Barbara and Bill, and Ray Garvey and Jeff Ragan and so many others whom we have all loved and for whom we have grieved, have made a difference for eternity. Their lives also remind the rest of us that we need to make sure what we’re doing counts for eternity, too, because In the long run, that’s really all that matters.