A Good Day

On Monday the two little boys and I attended a funeral. After the service ended, and we filed silently out of church, I found myself standing next to Walter. Walter is a member of church, an older man with a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile. In the short time we’ve been here, I’ve also learned that Walter likes to tease. He’ll playfully take Noah’s toy and say, “Hey, what are you doing with my toy?” But on Monday, Walter’s smile was softer, sadder. He looked at me, took a breath, and said, “It’s a good day.”

“Yes, it is,” I answered. But I’ll admit I was a little confused. What exactly did Walter mean? Did he mean “It’s a good day for a funeral?” Or did he just mean, “It’s a good day…weather wise.” I wasn’t sure. Since we have been enjoying an exceptionally gorgeous autumn, and at first I thought that’s what he meant. But something in his voice suggested a deeper meaning.

As we drove to the cemetery, that phrase kept repeating in my mind. It’s a good day…It’s a good day. And it was a good day, especially for the man whose life we gathered to celebrate. But isn’t that weird? To think a funeral is a good thing and to think of a death day as a happy day?

I thought of all the funerals I’d attended as a child. As a pastor’s kid, funerals came with the territory – just like weddings, Sunday School, potlucks, and apologizing to tattletales. I was at ease in the funeral home, around (occupied) coffins, and in cemeteries. In fact, I may have been a little too comfortable. For me a funeral was as social an event as a birthday party. There were free mints, cake and punch, and friends to play hide and seek with. I’m ashamed to say I was not above hiding behind the casket, either.

But I was, and am, comfortable around death for a different reason. Dad raised me to understand that death is nothing to fear, nothing to dread. He taught me that a funeral is a victory service for those who fall asleep in Christ. It is to be celebrated as much as a newborn’s baptism day and as much as the Christian’s day of Confirmation. Maybe even more.

Again, I know that sounds weird. I can think of a few friends who may read this and think the stress of moving has cost me my sanity. But this isn’t one of those things that can be understand with human reason. It’s one of those things we take on faith, believing that Jesus removed the sting of death and now it’s simply the end of this life and the beginning of the next.

Now, hang on, it’s about to get really weird. If all this is true, then shouldn’t death be something a Christian actually looks forward to? Well…yes! I remember the time I met with a doctor after Luke was born. (I’m laughing now, but you can’t hear it. Obviously.) Anyway, he had this little clipboard with a checklist that he was going down rather systematically. He wasn’t even making eye contact. Then out of the blue he asked if I was depressed, and did I ever want to die.

Well, given the whole point of this post, you can imagine how I answered. I said, honestly, that yes I look forward to dying and going to heaven. His head snapped up so fast I almost laughed. I tried to explain what I meant, but he was too busy prescribing an antidepressant to listen.

That memory always makes me smile. It isn’t “normal” to be comfortable around death, and certainly not to look forward to it. But no, I don’t need a psychiatrist. Really. Not when I know what Jesus says about death. The long, in-depth answer, which is well worth reading and studying, can be found in I Corinthians 15. But a shorter answer is in Psalm 116:15, where Jesus calls the death of his saints “precious.”

Walter may have stated it a little simpler, but in the end I have to agree with him. It was a good day. And I’m definitely not talking about the weather. A Child of God finished his race, and gained his crown of life. It was a very good day indeed.

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9 thoughts on “A Good Day

  1. Debra, I understand what the man meant, for my dad also explained death the same as your daddy did to you. He always said we should rejoice at a funeral for the person has returned to his/her heavenly home, and cry at a birth because the baby has all the worries of this earth to deal with. For believers it is comforting to know that death is more than the cessation of life.

  2. Debra, this, like all of your writing, is beautiful! This is a great way to see death in a new light. I was raised, like most, that death is scarry and nothing good will come amen you’re nearing “the end”. Being born again, I now know that this is not the case. As I face several upcoming surgeries alone, this is tremendously helpful for my spirit! I will work more on retraining my brain to no longer fear my “end”. I will also pray more for the one I may leave behind, should something go wrong.
    Always refreshed in life and in Him with a little dose of Debra! Miss you sweet friend!!

    1. Hi, Christina! It’s so good to hear from you. I think it’s normal to be afraid of what comes next because we don’t know exactly what it will be like, and we like to be in control! 🙂 I, too, worry what will happen to my kids if I pass away while they’re still little. That’s part of being a mom, I guess! But then I have to remember that God’s got their lives under control, too, and He will always do what’s best for them. I’ll be praying for you and your surgeries. Would you send me a facebook message or email with your current address? Thinking of you and missing you, too!!

  3. Beautifully said, Linda! I feel we should always find joy in life but at the same time, not fear what happens when we die.

  4. Am I weird? ‘Cause I laughed out loud when I got to the doctor’s office scene. 🙂

    I often have weird thoughts at funerals…like at least that person will never have to go to the grocery store again, or wash a pile of dirty clothes… or feel the pain of a broken heart. The cares of this world are over and I’m happy for that person who can delight in the joys of a new life. But I feel a little sorry for myself, missing that loved one. And knowing I have to keep shlepping around a grocery store. 🙂

    Also, the funeral home setting. I see a story there. 😉

    1. No, you’re not weird! I always laugh at that story, but I’m sure some people would find the whole thing disturbing. Like the doctor, for instance. 🙂 And, what it is about the grocery store that you don’t like? A story there, too, perhaps???

  5. This was a nice post, Deb. I’ve noticed I think a lot more about death. I think it’s natural as we grow older and start to realize our loved ones won’t always be with us. I get incredibly sad when I think of that separation, but that’s also where I’m SO grateful that our Savior paved the way for a reunion. What would it be like if we didn’t have that reassurance? I shudder to think of it.

    By the way, the new site looks great!! After checking for DAYS for a new post, it was nice to get a little extra surprise. 🙂

  6. You’re the first person to notice (or comment on!) the new look! Thanks! I think it’s so cute…was looking for something a little seasonal. Next up…Christmas blog!! More importantly, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I can’t imagine how difficult life would be either, if we didn’t know what comes next. Makes me realize I need to pray for anyone out there who is still searching for that truth.

  7. Well said, Debra Ann…. Although I never knew you actually hid behind an ‘occupied’ coffin… what else don’t I know????!! 🙂

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