By Paul Hayden
November 20, 2023
While attending a funeral this past week for a schoolmate from decades ago, I reflected that I generally like going to funerals. That in itself could sound morbid or troubling. But let me explain.
Funerals are about saying goodbye to someone - a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance. It is sad to bid “Adieu" ("to God" from the French), knowing you will never see them again. It is a somber time, and possibly a time of joy in remembering their life. In this ceremony, there is time for reflection, for thinking about what life is all about. It brings each of us face-to-face with our mortality, reminding us that we are only here for a limited time of uncertain length.
We consider our family - our mate, our kids, our siblings, our parents - whether or not they are still alive and involved. Our friends through the years mean a lot in our lives as well.
As I am “getting some age on me,” another way of saying I'm getting older, I find that I am giving more thought to questions about life. What is life all about? What is death? What have I done in my life, and what more do I want to do in life?
Several years ago, an old family friend contacted me. As a young nurse, she had cared for my dad when he was struggling with the life-ending cancer that eventually took him at a fairly young age of 44. Here it was decades later that she shared with me something she had learned from my Dad that was important for the rest of her life - not to be fearful of death.
My dad Kenneth Hayden was a Christian believer in Jesus, a pastor. He knew he was dying. And though I was quite young, age ten when he passed away, I know that he and my mom prepared us kids for what they could see was coming. Dad and Mom believed the words of Jesus.
"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" Jesus, John 11.25-26
We are born into this world completely dependent on others. We are molded and developed with input from family, friends, strangers, teachers, and individuals in our community. How incredibly complex our development is! People have always tried to understand life. But there is more…
At a funeral, we are also brought face-to-face with our relationship with God. He made us, He put His image in us. God gave us life, He breathed spirit into us. There is no better scientific explanation for what we call “life.” God created each one of us to be what He wanted. We are not just accidents. We are His creation.
I love the saying “I was born with nothing, and still have most of it left.” We are born with nothing and we can take nothing with us. We leave it all here on earth - belongings, memories, legacies, and the impact of our life on others.
One thing that becomes readily intense to me surrounding a funeral is that I need to be in touch with loved ones while they are still here. Always a good reminder. Write a note, make a call, go visit - share a memory, give some thanks, let them know you love them.
And this brings us to Thanksgiving…
Everyone, I mean everyone, has something for which they can be thankful. Life itself is a great starting point.I hope you will spend some time this week thanking God for what He has provided for you in your life.
Let God know you are thankful for life itself.
"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well." Psalms 139.14
Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!
Paul Hayden is a Christian believer, and an American patriot, necessarily in that order. He is a student of the Bible, and is avidly interested in our role in the context of history, as understood through the heart and eyes of faith. Paul has lived and traveled somewhat widely, and now lives in the heartland of the U.S. (central Illinois), with his wife Donna - they have five grown children. Since December of 2016, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of www.ConservativeTruth.org.
"I was raised by a Christian minister, Kenneth Hayden, until his death when I was 10. Then my mom married a farmer. So I was raised in a very down-to-earth home. My faith has grown through the years, but both in conjunction with the institutional church and through small groups and individuals, including books as well as group settings, where deep, sincere faith is shared that aligns with Biblical truth."