Last Saturday I went to a funeral. We hugged and cried and solemnly celebrated the life of one who had loved extravagantly and was loved fiercely. I then went home, changed my clothes, and went to a wedding. We hugged and cried and jubilantly celebrated two lives choosing to love extravagantly and fiercely until death do them part.
Life is really rather simple, on the whole.
One ceremony marks the end, another a beginning. One is accompanied with grief and another happiness. One marks a separation between loved ones and the other joins them together. But all the while there is a banner stretched across the event that reads the same thing. There is a theme that ties these seemingly opposite moments together. There is a unified message that both services are proclaiming. There is an exhortation is impressed upon their every face streaked with tears, sitting in those church pews.
We spend most of our days wondering if what we’re doing really matters. Does this job that we get up and go to every morning at seven matter? Does it matter if I do the dishes or sweep the floors? Do all the bottles and walks to the park and phonics practices matter? What do I need to have to matter? Another degree, a higher paying job, an investment plan, a well-known name, a world record, a bigger audience?
But then we sit in that sanctuary and hear about a life that has ended, or we sit in a chapel and we watch two people bind their lives together, and that mattering question with all its rationalities and qualifiers begins to fade. And the meaning of life begins to simplify into a single thing.
Life can seem a little complicated sometimes, I’ll admit. With none of our own input we have been thrust into this particular place in time and space. What we choose to pursue is limitless. But there is one thing that will decide whether or not our lives actually matter, one way that, among the thousands, is most excellent
Our time here will quickly come to an end. These days are not limited, our life in this particular time and space is fleeting. Those wiping their eyes at the funeral were experiencing this firsthand. But they also knew that the woman they had been bereft of had used her time well. She left behind a legacy of love. And perhaps that is why those at the wedding – the grandmothers and the maid of honor and the bride and groom themselves were in tears. They knew this chance at life is short, and the two getting married had committed to use it for love. They were choosing to walk the most excellent way.
I can’t wait for heaven. Not just to see the faces of those I’ve lost, not just to be without suffering, not just to have this world restored – though this is all will be beautiful. I can’t wait to wake up each day without the cares and darkness that squeeze my soul into forgetting that love is really all that matters.
But until that day comes I am thankful for these funerals and weddings and people living for the sake of love. I am thankful for the moments of clarity, the fleeting glimpses we have when the veil is held back and we remember what this life is really about.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
–1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Message)