Worship Wednesday – Reflecting on a Funeral – Worshiping God for His Gift of Friends – Michael W. Smith

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Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.Romans 12:10-11

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.1 Peter 4:10

This week has had its sober moments. A dear dear aunt is failing in health and hospice has been called in. Then this afternoon, we got word that a friend, who had struggled victoriously with cancer for years, has died. Both of these ladies are beautiful believers.

I’m just reminded once more at the great gift of the people God places in our lives… Losing such treasures stokes the fires of faith for me. I don’t understand how people can believe that life is over forever when this life ends… Heaven becomes more and more real as we say goodbyes to such vibrant friends and family who show us how to love like Jesus.

With permission, I want to share a tribute that Dave Lyle, a pastor friend of ours, shared on his Facebook page. His friend, Donnie Goodman, must have been bigger than life. I would have loved knowing him…one day in Heaven, it will happen.

Reflecting on a Funeral, Donnie Goodman, and Where My Life Is Heading

The last couple of days were spent hanging out with family and friends of Donnie. They’re an interesting bunch, often with not a lot in common except for that most important factor- all loved the man. And so we talked, cried, laughed, and hugged. It is just hard to believe he is gone. The funeral and graveside memorial were, like Donnie, strange and wonderful. The casket was embossed with the logo of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He had drumsticks in his hands, and a letter from dad. One of the songs involved a repeating theme about sitting back, reminiscing, and drinking a beer. And at the graveside, final tune, they played Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd– the shorter, 9-minute version. None of it screamed conventional. But for this guy it was OK. I was not a speaker at the service, probably could not if asked. But I had the honor to grieve. I say honor because usually I am too busy trying to help others, trying to give the deceased an appropriate sendoff. But this time I was able to sit back and let it hit me. And that it did, and hard. At the end of the day, I was so very tired. Grieving is not easy. I guess it cannot be. Unexpectedly, unfairly, I lost a great friend. In many ways Donnie was the man I am working to be- kind, smart, full of love, always making time for people, just the most earnest and real of a person. I think, in these and other ways, he reflected my Lord Jesus. I believe the common folks liked to be around Jesus. He had a twinkle in his eye and enjoyed life. My Lord was quick with a smile, and slow to condemn, and ready to forgive. That. too, was Donnie. Now the guy did not walk on water, didn’t even go to church like maybe he should. But he knew how to love people! And in my opinion, the outward sign of a man whose heart is right with God is this amazing characteristic, to love others.

Now I want to talk just a little bit about my response to all this. I will not be the same. Indeed, I do not want to be. For far too long, I have had absolutely too little to do with those amazing people in my life such as Donnie. God has gifted me with the finest of people. But, too often, I have been too busy and too self-focused. These people are precious, but like most things that are valuable on this side of eternity, they can slip from your grasp in the matter of unseen seconds. So it was with my dear friend, Donnie. And I just do not want it to happen again. So my intent is to quit thinking that I live too far away, stop waiting for the other guy to make the first move, stop worrying about rejection, and especially stop thinking I am too busy for anybody. This is because, in reality, life and friends are too special to allow myself to ever again think I am that busy. Of course, if I could talk to Donnie and try to explain, this guy would not let me wallow in pity. He wasn’t much of a philosopher, instead a man of action. He would say forget it, let’s go do something! So, such is what I will try to do- not live with regrets, but instead do something about it.

Likely I will never again hear Freebird or the Alabama Fight Song played at a funeral! Donnie was one of a kind. If someone makes you a better person, indeed he is special. It is your fortune, your honor, to know him. Thank you, Donnie, for being special, nice, easy-going, gifted, just a little weird, a Christian, and the finest of men. My friend.

Dave Lyle

This old song by Michael W. Smith came to mind as I read Dave’s tribute. If you don’t know it…you might enjoy listening, and remembering the great gift of friends in our lives. Thank You, God.

Roll Tide!

6 thoughts on “Worship Wednesday – Reflecting on a Funeral – Worshiping God for His Gift of Friends – Michael W. Smith”

    1. It was our friend Dave’s tribute to his friend, and it was wonderful. We have such a gift in this life in the lives of others…some people who have impacted my life in huge ways have been people I have only known after they died. Whew! Emotional right now. Appreciate your prayers for my friend’s family…and our dear aunt and her family. Much love, Marjory!

    2. Thank you, Debbie for your sweet post today, Mom’s homecoming day. My mom fought like crazy, for nearly 10 years, against the cancer that invaded her body. She was a woman of valor. “Eishet Chayil”. She truly saw people, showed them her Father, and loved them well.

      1. Oh Chris, I didn’t know she was this close. Just read your sweet tribute of her on Facebook now. What a woman of God she clearly was! So courageous. So living outside herself for his glory. You and Meredith have her in you, for sure. I’ll be praying for sweet memories to mingle with your grieving and that God’s comfort will wrap around you and hold you tight. I wish I could have known your mom…one day…

  1. It hurts. As a minister I seek to help others navigate that pain and find peace. For a long time I tried to rush others through the pain process in as short a time as possible- quickly acknowledge the hurt, and then cover it with spiritual medicine. Lately I have been reading C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed. His wife dies of cancer. And, of course, he goes through the process of grief. But he does not rush through it, instead taking time to watch and consider the pain. He doesn’t apologize for his anger, questions of a faith that is no longer so comfortable, or even questions of God. And he never quits on God, which I think to be the key. I’m just beginning to digest this idea of slowing down and learning all you can through the grieving process, but strangely it makes sense to me.

    1. Oh, Dave, I agree with everything you said. Having been in cancer nursing for many years and now many years older myself, grieving has become part of life. Some people seem to avoid it…too painful, too inconvenient, too foreign. I don’t know. What has happened in my heart, as seems to be happening in yours, is to face the multiple layers of grief and loss and remembering/memorializing the one we love. They’re gone too quickly…we must stop and take note of their lives. Even Jesus wept at Lazarus’ death and the pain it caused those he loved (and him also, I’m thinking), even when he knew he was going to raise him from the dead.

      Thank you so much for allowing me to share your tribute of your friend Donnie’s life. You write beautifully, and I will always be grateful for your eulogy of Dad’s life…and your writing ever since. May God continue to comfort you as He does us.

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