As some of you know, my mom died earlier this summer. She was a difficult person. I did the simple graveside service. It was nowhere near the spectacle she would like for it to have been. It was nowhere near the event most of our family had anticipated. I hope it was faithful. In that service, which was mercifully brief since it was 105 degrees that day, we talked about the assurance that God loves us and wants us to know peace and contentment. My mom never knew much of either of those, and it was mostly of her own choosing. What I tried to share in the service was that it really is the truth that God loves us and wants good for us. If we never find it in this life, as she rarely did (and she is not alone)I cling to the assurance that the way things do in eternity is not up to us, that God will be in charge, and we will know life as we could have known it in this life if we had paid more attention to God's way than we had to ours. Here's part of what I said in the cemetery: "...if what God really does want for us is for us to be happy and to enjoy life as long as it lasts, then where she is now, in the everlasting presence of God, that's all that matters. And God's in charge of that place, and God can find a way to help her experience the happiness and the joy that she was rarely able to find in the past seventy-seven years." I believe that.
Most of my family who gathered there that afternoon are pretty life-weary people. They have all had their share of adversity. One of my cousins came to me as we were leaving the cemetery that day. She, herself, has buried a child and a brother, and suffered more failed marriages than I remember. I haven't had any of those things happen so far. It's what she said, though, that I remember. She said, "I really appreciate what you said today. I just wish there were some way we could know it's the truth. It would make all this a little easier, wouldn't it."
I've thought about her comments a lot since that day. What I said to her was that I believe what I said was true. I have to. But I can't prove its truth to her or to anybody else. Believing that God loves us and wants us to know peace is the foundation of everything else I believe. If that's not true, I'm up the creek. We all are.
I haven't seen that cousin since that day in the cemetery. Probably won't for a while. The fact that she was listening enough to say what she did give me hope for people who do what I do, even (maybe especially) when we do it among those who know us best--or think they do.
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