“One day, someone like me will stand in a place like this and you will be there in that.”
This sentence is spoken by me at every funeral I conduct. I don’t know where I first heard it because I doubt I came up with it all by myself. Nevertheless, it’s a sobering reminder of an uncomfortable truth: one day, a pastor or officiant will stand in some kind of funeral room and your dead body will be the topic of conversation.
This is the present human condition. Since we know it’s coming, it seems reasonable to be ready for it. King Solomon of Israel also seemed to feel this way. He states in Ecclesiastes 12:6–8:
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Everything is meaningless!”
Ecclesiastes 12:6–8 (NIV)
There will come a day when “silver cord” holding the “golden bowl” of our lives snaps and “the dust returns to the ground it came from”. Death’s success rate remains astonishingly perfect: 100%. Eventually, the machine that we call our body will cease to function and everything we’ve amassed in this life will be passed on to someone else. No wonder King Solomon declares it empty and ultimately worthless (verse 8).
Barring something supernatural from Jesus, we will all pass through death’s door. And “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV).
The Teacher of Israel knew this truth and reminds us here not only that death respects no one, he is also forcing us to consider two more things:
- What happens to us after we die?
- How will others remember the toil of our lives?
These are two profound questions that have occupied human consciousness from the beginning. For those who are not students of the Bible, what comes after death is a great mystery. For Christians, we know that absence from our “earth suits” means we are finally home with the Lord Jesus in Heaven (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:8).
For those who are disciples of the Lord, we also have the assurance that our lives exhausted on advancing the Kingdom of God are not meaningless (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58). Our mission on Earth is living the Good News of Jesus before the world and making disciples of everyone around us (cf. Matthew 28:19-20).
Knowing what happens to our physical lives when they end changes how we live them while they happen. Otherwise, this so-called life is meaningless, empty, vacuous, and worthless.
Dear one in Jesus, no matter what the world tells you, there’s no amount of money, possessions, or achievement worth trading your purpose and calling from the Lord. What you are called to be is YOUR place. YOUR purpose. YOUR reason for existence.
So “Remember Him”—remember the Lord while you’re still alive. Your funeral service is being written every single day, by your actions, deeds, words, and values. How you and I live and what we do tells the story of a life poured out for Jesus or a life wasted on “stuff” that simply passes into either the garbage can or fought over by descendants.
Yes, one day, someone like me will stand over your casket and you will be in there. What will someone like me say about someone like you?