I have been to three funerals in the past three weeks, and each one has been beautifully different – varying in faith tradition, length, and ways in which families shared memories of their loved one.
But each memorial also contained one similarity, captured by this verse from one of the memorial programs:
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth--
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.
As I left the third funeral, I contemplated this notion of unfinished work. It makes perfect sense to leave a memorial service motivated to finish a project, especially one that will outlast us.
Along those lines, I’m reading a devotional book by Pamela Sonnenmoser called Praise & Paraphrase. Pamela was a friend, and sadly, her funeral is one of the three I attended recently.
In one of her devotions, she talks about the process a twice-baked potato goes through. It is cooked for an hour, then removed from the oven, cut open and its insides are scraped out and crushed. A few ingredients are added and then everything is put back into its shell. Finally, it has to go back into the oven.
Here’s what Pamela concluded:
"I want to be like a twice-baked potato; perfected by the process God requires, having all of myself removed and having the extra things that come from the Holy Spirit added. I want to be yielded by His refining fire again and again. I long to be ready to serve the glory of God."
Pamela lived this. And now, because she finished the work God gave her one earth, she is able to speak to us from beyond the grave. And that’s a beautiful thing.
But this admonition to avoid idleness goes beyond finishing the work before us.
If you were to ask me what I desire more of, I would tell you a slower pace – one that allows for more contemplation, more reading, more fishing, more nature photos, more bonfires and more baseball games on the radio. My soul is fed as I intentionally avoid the highways of life in favor of the byways.
A few years ago, while traveling across Missouri, I pulled off the interstate to visit a winery. As I left there, I decided to take a detour through the small town nearby called High Hill, population 195. As I puttered down Booneslick Road, I saw the Mayberry police car you see pictured above. How could I not pull over and shoot that photo?
It reminded me of a simpler time – one my parents grew up in. By simpler, I mean a time of less distraction – a time in which you didn’t have to pull off the interstate to search for a slower pace because interstates didn’t exist. My parents were twenty when President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 that created the interstate system we know today.
Ultimately, my trip down Booneslick Road allowed me to pause and contemplate how much the world has changed since my parents were teens. And in a small way, I was paying respect to who they were, who they had become, and everything they have done for me.
I want to finish the work God has given me before my time on earth is finished, and I also want to make sure I’m stopping long enough to visit Mayberry once in a while.