Today is a day in which our culture celebrates the myths and fears that surround death. Some of the cultural traditions are fun and some are down-right scary. Although we can claim to have had some fun on All Hallows' Eve, our family grew to be fairly indifferent to the celebrations going on around us on this day. In fact, it never crossed my mind to purchase candy this year so we are sitting at home with the porch lights OFF!
On the eve of All Saints Day, when many are celebrating the uncertainty that surrounds death, I thought I would write a little about the certainty that comes to those who have faithfully departed in Christ. About a month ago we said "see you later" to my life-long friend and husband of twenty-five years. Because of the long term nature of Ken's health problems our family had many opportunities to face reality and to prepare for closure. We actually considered that part of his illness to be a blessing through the years.
Ken had survived liver cancer in 2006 by receiving a life-saving liver transplant. Throughout 2014 his transplanted liver had been slowly failing and we knew that it was a matter of time before it had completely failed. Even though Ken was diagnosed with a rare liver disease in 1989 he lived a life much better than the doctors ever expected. Because of this diagnosis we learned to live a life that kept the truly important things in the forefront. We learned to say the things that were really important to each other and to our children. Ken wrote each child a letter before his passing yet there was nothing written that wasn't said at some time. He did the same for me and I now have in writing letters that highlighted the years of spoken words.
About a week before Ken died he asked me to have our children, parents and pastors meet with him at the hospital. He had struggled that day with a lot of pain and wanted this opportunity to speak some final words to his loved ones while his mind was clear. He spoke with us all as a group assuring us of his conviction and faith in Jesus Christ. He spoke individually to each of us assuring us of his personal love. We then ended the night with bible readings and a service to accommodate the dying.
As a final act of love and closure for us all, Ken also planned the entire funeral. He typed out the worship service, he chose all of the Bible readings and all of the hymns. I think it was so well done it was ready for printing once the church secretary had added in the day of death along with the name of the Pastor officiating the service. The funeral service ended with this verse from 2 Timothy 4:7 -
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."
As he planned the service with a specific message in mind, this verse alone left us all with a final message. Although life goes on, we were being encouraged to stay focused on the finish line of this earthly race so that life will go on eternally for us all, like it did for him.