At some point in your life you’ve been asked the question: what do you want people to say about you at your funeral? This exercise is designed to provoke self-examination with the focus on how we ought to live our lives. It has never really been a question I pondered seriously. Every time I thought about that question it seemed self-serving or boastful. Which, in itself, is strange because I had not yet lived my life that way.
On saturday I attended the memorial service of my Uncle, Frank Hinrichs. I knew that Uncle Tony was quite sick with Leukemia. He’d had cancer for six years. I guess that’s why I didn’t think he was going to pass away any time soon. He seemed to be living past expectations. I’d hear that he had some complication or another, but he always seemed to overcome.
On July 30th my Uncle Tony went home to be with Jesus. I was shocked. Yes he had cancer, but he always overcame the challenges he faced. It wasn’t until the memorial service on saturday that I understood he had completely overcome cancer.
It was the first memorial service I can recall that left me hopeful. I knew Uncle Tony was a good guy. I knew he was a loving husband, a loving father, and a faithful servant of God. I didn’t know the depth of these facts. I saw an outpouring of love and respect and grief that moved me deeply. Uncle Tony left his mark on many people, from his family to his church family to his friends.
We heard from several people what marks he left on their life. Tales of selfless service, love, and an indomitable sense of humor. Oh what a sense of humor he had! My cousin wrote a moving eulogy that said so eloquently the mark his dad left on his sons. I was amazed my Aunt Kris played a song on piano in memory of her husband. I marveled that my cousin’s father-in-law, Pastor Goodin, presided over the service while at times holding back tears for his friend. When it was time for anyone to say what was on their heart, many stood up in admiration and thankfulness for their friend.
The service set my mind in motion. This man suffered with cancer for many years. I saw Facebook update after update about another trip to the doctor, an ER visit, more tests, new treatments. Through all of it his sense of humor remained. He made fun of cancer and brought light to so many lives. His faith in Christ propelled him past any sense of despair, being secure in the knowledge of his eternity. And his life showed it. He left behind an indelible mark. A marriage that I would seek to envy. Children who loved and respected him. So very many people who count it as gain to have known my Uncle Tony, and been touched by his humor, love, and sacrificial service.
I now have a concrete idea of what I would like people to say at my funeral. The example has been set quite clearly. I can’t wait to see him again! I hope to hear what Uncle Tony heard early that morning when he passed from this world, overcoming cancer by the power of Christ and arriving in Heaven: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'”
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”