I was recently at a funeral wake of someone I’m not related to. My wife’s friend’s father. Let’s call him Uncle P.
It was obvious that Uncle P was loved by his family, friends and churchmates. This was a farewell that had that perfect mix of tears of sadness and much laughter, as loved ones reminisced about the life of Uncle P.
Attending the nightly service at the wake left a deep impression on me. It made me think about the kind of life I want to live. This was the passage the pastor conducting the service used to describe Uncle P.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
I saw the legacy he was leaving behind. Shared his daughter: “If anyone is excited about meeting Jesus in heaven, it will be my dad.”
Uncle P was, first of all, a minister. Close family friends recalled how he would drive his daughters to school faithfully for 8 years, using the time in the car to share with them the Word of God, and pray with them Every. Single. Day.
This put me to shame. Though I generally enjoy sending my children to school, there are also days when I’m tired and reluctant to send my kids to school, or when I didn’t feel like talking to them about God along the way.
Uncle P was also a missionary, participating actively in overseas missions even at the age of 60. In latter years he transversed the jungles of Thailand to reach far-flung tribes. And his devotion to God and heart for people made an impact, I heard over and over again that night.
He also faithfully led his church’s prison ministry and visited inmates every week. He compiled the many reports of lives touched by Jesus, and shared them with his church leadership.
Uncle P was also a man of humility. He took it upon himself to be the traffic warden in his church on Sundays, and greeted members and visitors at the gate with the joy of the Lord.
Another cell member recalled Uncle P not only encouraged people with his words, but put his money where his mouth was, offering up his own savings when this friend ran into financial difficulties during the Asian Financial Crisis.
At the wake, I heard that one of Uncle P’s favourite passages in Scripture is Psalm 113:2-3.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
Both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
That was epitomised, clearly and fully, in his life.
This is the kind of life I want to aspire towards, I thought to myself as I went home. I didn’t know Uncle P before that night. But I was inspired by the stories of his life, his legacy, and his love for God.
The troubles and worries I am going through seem so petty and small when you compare them to the size of Uncle P’s big, generous, faithful heart. Lord, help me to live a life worthy of you – that I, too, might keep the faith and finish the race of life well.