If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. . – 1 Corinthians 15:44-45
Rebekah and I attended two memorial services over the weekend. One was huge, filling a large sanctuary; the other was small and intimate, just a dozen people in the church garden.
Both of the deceased were people who lived lives that told compelling stories. There was nothing “routine” or “regular” or “run-of-the-mill” about either man. Both sets of memories, and testimonies, and celebrations, and insights were inspirational. There was laughter, there was reflection, there was gratitude, there was grief.
Truth I couldn’t miss:
As a journalist, I am used to paying close attention to all the details of a story. And I’m glad I did, because there was one small observation that – I believe – said as much if not more than everything else combined. It is something that, the moment it was uttered, said “truth” loud and clear.
It was Saturday afternoon in the church garden. Jeff Simpson was talking about his brother, the deceased. He told some stories and described some of the exploits of a man who was evidently very much in love with life and who seized every moment with nothing held back.
But then Jeff pointed out that if you took all the things we remember, all the stories we retell, all the notes written down, all the photographs taken, and all the journals kept -and if we archived it all, curating some kind of an exhibit, could we still say that we had the story of a life?
Maybe, he suggested, the real story of his brother – the essential fact of him – is the sum of everything unremembered, unphotographed, unpreserved, unmemorialized, untold.
“TRUTH!” I thought, “truth, truth, truth.” We live in this Facebook, Instagram, Blog and YouTube world (plus other cool stuff I am nowhere near current enough to use). We interact caught in this sound-bite staccato cadence and then move on, and we often believe – or pretend to believe – we can reduce meaning to a 30-second clip.
Beyond the 30-second clip:
It has been said that character is who are we when nobody else is watching. I guess it can also be said that our truest narrative is that which runs – unrecorded, unfiltered, unmodified – in the background.
Today I’m going to be thinking about who I really am. If my life were to end today you could:
- read all 2,640 WordPress posts I have written,
- examine a decade of photographs on Facebook,
- study my entire collection of newspaper columns,
- read all eight of my published books,
- interview my amazing wife and wonderful children,
- gather stories from the churches we have served as well as my career as a school-teacher.
However, truth be told, who I am is both incredibly simple and fundamentally inaccessible. Simple in that I am a beloved child of God. Inaccessible in the sense Jeff Simpson suggested, that it is the vast catalog of the unwritten and unremembered.
But – and there is so much hope in this – God does not miss a moment! God remembers; God is aware and completely familiar with every detail of my meandering journey through this life. And God loves me completely, regardless.
That, my friends, is not a ticket pre-punched for heaven so much as it is an invitation to live our grateful response with character, grace, integrity, and love.
All this and more – DEREK