My childhood friend Brenda died over 30 years ago, yet I can still recall much of her funeral in sharp detail. I primarily remember being overwhelmed with emotion (and tears) as I viewed her body in its casket (it didn’t look like her—makeup and styled hair weren’t Brenda) and then as I sat through the service.
Both my grandfathers had died when I was a child, but her death was different. She was only 25—my age. Too young to die. She was just getting her life together, and there was so much that she would never experience: a career, a husband, a family.
Through the pastor’s eulogy and her loved ones’ remembrances, I learned that Brenda had been attending college and making strides in her life. She was on her way back to school after Christmas break when a car accident claimed her life. Yet despite the sadness of her death, there was excellent news. The friend who had lovingly done her hair shared that Brenda had just become a Christian.
The news of Brenda’s salvation led to more tears. I felt tremendous relief that Brenda was now in heaven, but I also felt intense guilt. Until we moved in my mid-teens, Brenda had gone to church with my family and had spent lots of time at my home, yet I didn’t recall ever talking to her about God. What if she had never come to Christ?!
I got through the day and eventually the grief. And I came to realize that I wasn’t personally responsible for whether or not Brenda came to Christ (yet I wasn’t entirely off the hook either). I also learned some elementary, yet valuable lessons.
First, life on this earth is very brief (James 4:14). Coming face-to-face with the death of someone my age made this abundantly clear. Since then I’ve been reminded of this reality again and again through the news media and the death of loved ones—including just recently when my father-in-law died a few weeks ago.
Second, I need to be willing to be used by God to spread the gospel; and I need to take advantage of the opportunities when they do arise. This is the Christian’s calling. Out of gratefulness for our salvation, we are to sow the seed of the Word (Mark 4:1-9, 13-20)—and God will see that it comes to fruition.
One day I’ll see Brenda again. That brings me great joy!