Recently, I have been thinking a lot about a fairly tough, sensitive topic. Death. A few weeks ago my wife’s grandfather passed away. He is a beloved and well respected man in his community, and loved by his family. Funerals are never easy, but like it or not, we will all face this one day. While helping and watching my in-laws prepare for the funeral, I was overwhelmed by the stories, pictures, and love they demonstrated to their husband, father, and grandfather. There were fun stories about funny things he said or did. There were stories of heroism and patriotism. There were stories of gentleness and encouragement. There were stories of hurt and regret. But most interesting were the stories of sacrifice and love. He loved other people. He loved his family. He was always willing to lend a hand, but admittedly was difficult to give a hand. Humility. Integrity. Devotion. Loyalty. These words are some of the best to describe Ned Creasey.
I knew Mr. Creasey for the past eight years. I didn’t really know him as the government leader, police officer, fire fighter, or former navy man. I knew him as my wife’s grandfather – lovingly called ‘Papa’. The way that man treated and loved my wife was a wonderful sight to behold. Of course, I have seen pictures of my wife as a little girl playing or lying in bed with her Papa and the dog, but what I saw with my own two eyes is very moving.
He was always proud of his granddaughter, my wife. He wanted her around all the time – which I can appreciate. He sought to help her, provide for her, care for her, and simply, to love her. She would do anything for her Papa. She cleaned his house, filed his papers, took him to Costco, ate meals with him, attended meetings with him, and reminisced with him about fun memories they had together.
This entire situation got me thinking about a verse in the Bible that says that funerals are better than parties. In Ecclesiastes chapter 7 verse 2 (in the New Living Translation) it says, “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies – so the living should take this to heart.”
At first glance this verse sounds horrifying and completely inaccurate, but the more I think about it the more truth it conveys. Funerals make us think about who we are, what we are doing, what we have been prioritizing, our families, our friends, our legacies. It makes us think about what is really important. Too often, we find ourselves chasing worldly treasures and material things only to find out in the end that we often achieved those things at the sacrifice of our relationships and the people we love most.
I do not know of many people who, when they are about to pass, talk about how they wish they had more stuff or made more money. Mostly, they say they wish they had better relationships or that they could tell a loved one something they never did. Therefore, I think the writer of Ecclesiastes was on to something when he penned this verse. God is trying to get us to think about what kind of legacy we are going to leave and that we should be about His purposes. God has an awesome place in store for us, and we are responsible for telling everyone we meet about the good news of the grace of Jesus Christ. While funerals can be difficult to deal with, they are meaningful because they help us focus on who God wants us to be and wants us to do: Love God and love each other. I have often heard it said that the best inheritance one can give is not material possessions or money, but a godly legacy. It is never too early to think about what kind of legacy you want to leave your children, your grandchildren, and the rest of your family. So, what kind of legacy will you leave? Anyway, I was just thinking…