It’s easy to forget some things — many things — really.
It’s especially easy to forget things in a moment of panic, in the tyranny of the urgent or after a long span of time. Or, in an obituary. Or at a memorial service.
I’m thinking you know what I mean. Attending numerous funerals and memorial services through the years has kept this thought pretty fresh in my mind. Time has a way of softening rough edges in some relationships — sharpening them in others — and has a way of distorting things when the accumulation of days, experiences and memories ceases.
It’s sometimes necessary to overlook things at that point. You find yourself reasoning in your head: Look, the guy’s dead — let it go already. Or, Okay, so he was a creep — he’s dead, pay your respects and move on.
You may find yourself glancing around the room of family and friends gathered to remember, gathered to grieve, gathered to console, gathered to laugh at the wonderful times, gathered to show support, gratitude or devotion. Whatever the case, it’s interesting: all that goes on at such a time as a memorial service — or in the writing/reading of an obituary. So much could be/must be/needs to be said. And, usually, so much is
forgotten overlooked when recounting the story of a life. And, I suppose, in a sense, that’s how it should be — if tact or the preservation of personal dignity are the criteria for why what’s shared is (or isn’t) shared in the memorial and/or obituary.
Every now and then, however, the rest of the story is told. You’ve probably experienced this from time to time — when someone dies and there’s a painful side to the relationships the person was involved in — or other self inflicted woes and regrets. So, in those times, the honest and open, yet tactful, acknowledgement of basic realities brings healing to the ones closest to that individual. Sometimes, the brief recounting of some of the struggles helps those who are grieving to make some sense of the tragedies or helps to bring closure to disappointments or whatever. Somehow, being able to say: here’s how it went, here’s how it felt and now we go on, brings the beginning of healing — a turning point, perhaps, so that what was can be acknowledged and what can be can begin.
Interestingly, this past springtime has brought many deaths — many opportunities to reflect on lives and the accomplishments, beliefs, decisions, etc., etc., of each of those individuals. The words preached, the sprinkling of laughter and tears, the memories shared at the different memorial services still play back in the theater of my thoughts — it seems almost daily, the poignant memories, testimonies, etc., continue in the forefront of my mind. I think that must be why the Scriptures tell us that is it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of mirth or feasting — for it seems to me that much instruction is found in the house of mourning.
Over the last couple of days you’ve no doubt been hearing, as I have, the many different accounts and tributes to the life of Chuck Colson, I read a very thoughtful and insightful article by Tim Challies. Brave one, he. I’m linking to it — bcz he’s succinctly detailed some errors while remaining respectful. O, sisters, there’s much we must learn — and, in this case, much we must discern from a life of significant influence, but also, a life that added a dimension of conflict and compromise regarding Biblical truths and, what I call, pragmatic faith: Faith that goes along to get along… and, yes, you guessed it: that’s not really true faith at all. We’re seeing it (probably experiencing it) all over! We don’t want to offend our neighbours, our family and friends. We don’t want to come across as holier than Thou, we don’t want to be embarrassed or cause trouble. But! O, sisters, we must realize that hell is filled with un-offended neighbours, family and friends. May we have courage to speak the Truth. In love. With tact.
More than ever, we must be circumspect regarding what’s being taught as Truth and may the Lord help us be witnesses of His Truth.
I know I took a real risk sharing as I did and commenting as I did regarding a couple of the errors in a life so influential and powerful. I want to reiterate something that I think might’ve been lost and that is that he did do marvelous things and his contribution is significant and I don’t doubt his sincerity/faith/salvation/etc., etc. for one moment. I only want to emphasize the tremendous impact of a life and how imperative it is to NOT compromise or live pragmatically/compromising regarding Biblical Truths. When “religious” beliefs are in conflict with the Bible, we mustn’t err on the side of compromise, we must adhere to the Truths of the Word — and this will often NOT be popular and others will be offended.