Saturday, September 15, 2007

Future Plans Today

IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW

Yesterday Rebecca asked if you've planned ahead for your Homegoing, as it pertains to what hymns you'd like to have sung, and what Scripture reading you'd like to be pointed out. It's a great question and I do have some thoughts on this. I was intending to respond to it asap.

Then last night before I turned in for the night I decided to check my mail one more time and when I did I got the news from a family member that my cousin Johnny had been killed in an auto accident. Johnny was just 36 years old, and leaves behind three young children.

Its rather ironic in a way, that when we're young we generally don't give much thought to these things because we somehow asssume we've got plenty of time to put a plan together. I'm not really sure why most people do that, but that's the the way it is.

I'm going to answer Rebecca's questions here because my answers are long and I don't want to hijack her combox with my longwindedness:

Have you given any thought to what hymns you’d want included in your funeral or memorial service?

I have and I've changed the selection numerous times over the years. Right now the selection would include Abide With Me and When I Survey The Wonderous Cross.

What reasons do you have for choosing those hymns?

Part of the reason is that I can't sing either one of them without crying. The tears come because the words leave me undone when I sing about the goodness of God on such a person as me. If there is one message I want to leave in the hearts and minds of people as they might think of me at the end of my life, that's the message: the goodness of God on undeserving sinners.

What about funerals for your loved ones? What songs have been played or sung?

At my first husband's memorial service, there were several rather upbeat, contemporary praise songs that were sung, because he liked them. He wanted people to praise God at his memorial service. One of the hymns that was played was Crystal Lewis' rendition of Precious Lord. It's a beautiful hymn, beautifully sung by her but I have never been able to listen to that hymn since that day. For me this is a strange dilema because there is a profound sadness still attached to this hymn. I don't know if this is an oddity of my own quirky personality or if this is common with hymns and songs played at funerals.

And what about scripture? What scripture passages would you like to have read? What scripture passages have been read at the funerals of those close to you?

I haven't really settled on a particular passage or passages, but I do know I'd like Isaiah 55:11 to be read and expounded on, as well as a good ole fashioned gospel sermon preached. Is. 55:11 is what I consider to be my "life verse" or the one verse that has been pivotal in my life for many years. It brings me a great deal of comfort that no matter what, no matter the plans of man, the word of God will go exactly where He desires it, and do exactly as He intends it to do. There is absolutely nothing that can stop the will of God from being done, and since He is perfect, just, holy, merciful and always right in all things, this is a pretty amazing assurance. As for the gospel sermon I want preached, I really want a no-holds-barred "repent and believe" message to be sent. That's the one message that changes lives and gives people a hope that cannot be lost.

I will admit that more than likely, had I not gone through this with a spouse at such a young age, I probably would not have given a whole lot of serious thought to it. I recall the doctor telling us the day that he gave us the diagnosis "you will need to discuss right away, things that most people your age never give much thought to". The day we heard those words he was 28 and I was 26 and for the next 4.5 years those were things we did discuss and make plans for.

My cousin Johnny who passed away this week, was just 36 years old. I really didn't know him at all since he lived in Guam for many years and by the time he moved back to the states I was grown up and moved away. The last time I saw him we were both little kids. I have no idea what his life was like, nor what his spiritual condition was like. It's never too early, and you're never too young to take your life seriously and plan for day you leave this world.

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In the city where my cousin Johnny was killed, the newspaper ran a story about the accident and in their online version they have a comment section. Due to the circumstances surrounding the accident, many of the people leaving comments are leaving the most bitter, angry and harassing type of garbage. Regardless of why Johnny is gone and the mistakes he made, he was my uncle's son, my cousins's little brother, the father of 3 kids and a member of a family that loved him, and that is hurting that he's gone. Seeing these comments (there are over 100 in the thread) is just revolting, but surely the evidence of the depravity in the hearts of men, with no compassion or mercy whatsoever. I would like to ask my readers to please pray for Johnny's kids, first and foremost but also his extended family, and the people leaving such horrible words at this newspaper site. I have decided not to post the link publicly but if anyone would like it to maybe minister a word of comfort to Johnny's family reading the newspaper site, please email me and I will give you the link.