This past week I watched the funeral of a 35 year old woman named Manda I’ve never met, but I met her mom, Cindy, 17 years ago when my family moved to Texas. Manda was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five, and in her third fight against cancer, Jesus came to bring her home with him to heaven.
I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, so I watched a video of it online. It’s as long as a movie, but more worthwhile than any movie I’ve ever seen. I’ve never met this woman who’s just eight years older than me, but already a wife and mom to two children. Watching her funeral though, I felt like I knew her – and I found myself drawing near to Jesus because of her.
Every word spoken at her funeral was dripping with the gracious truth of Jesus. I’ve always thought if I ever get married, I want Jesus to receive far more attention and adoration than I might receive as a bride on my wedding day. And while a bride may not be the only main event of her wedding (it does take two to get hitched), I think we can all agree the person who passes should certainly be the main event of their own funeral. But that was not the case at Manda’s funeral. Although they said her name more times than I could count, I’m confident they said the name of Jesus twice as much, if not more. It reminds me of what John says of Jesus in John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
One of my favorite moments from her funeral was when the minister spoke about her final breath on this side of heaven. Although she was dying in a hospital bed, her spirit was very much alive in Christ. He said in her final moments she got the biggest smile on her face – like she could finally see Jesus.
How beautiful is that? That one moment of the entire hour and a half funeral gave me the greatest hope and joy in the Lord.
January 15th of this year I celebrated 20 years of knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Most days, I’m baffled it’s been 20 years. But some days I wonder, how long must I wait until I see Jesus face to face? He grows my love for him more each day – so much so there’s a deep desire in my heart for him right now as I’m writing this – an ache in my soul that’s stronger than anything I’ve experienced in 27 years. Each day I fall more in love with Jesus, and while he continues to make his presence known to me in such kind ways, sometimes I’m desperate to see him face to face. I’ve seen the glory of the one my heart beats for, but I’ve never seen him in the fullness of his glory – I’ve never seen him face to face.
To know that Manda could see Jesus face to face gives me the hope I need to press on in this race he’s marked out for me. I need not grow weary. One day, Jesus will come to carry me home to heaven with him, and what a wonderful day that will be! Finally, I will be able to see my Lord and Savior face to face! There is no greater joy than to be carried in the love of Jesus.
“Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” –Psalm 68:19-20
When you breathe your last breath, who will be your greatest treasure?
I leave you with the always encouraging words of Jesus in John 14:1-6, “‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.’
‘No, we don’t know, Lord,’ Thomas said. ‘We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Manda, thank you for your testimony of faith in Jesus. Thank you for a life well lived and a fight well fought. The way you allowed Christ’s perfect love to cast out all fear is inspiring. You made Paul’s final words in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 come to life for me in a whole new way:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”