There is nothing more heart wrenching than watching a father carry a small white casket carrying his infant son/daughter out of a church. I have now watched this happen twice in less than a year. My heart aches each time I witness this scene. It is a scene that has been imprinted on my heart – forever.
Friday was the ceremony to say farewell to Johnathan David – at least on this side of heaven. Johnny, as he was called by his parents, was called home. The last heart surgery was just too much for his 4 month old body. But now he is in the arms of Jesus with his heart restored and beating in tune with His savior’s.
For a funeral, this one was beautiful. There was so much symbolism embedded in the program and decorations. God was every where one looked.
Upon entering the sanctuary of the church, you saw 127 candles lined up across the back of the platform – each candle representing one day of Johnny’s life. All of the candles were votives, except for the very first and the very last – which were tall tapers. Before the service began, Dave and Lea, the parents came in and light the very first candle, representing their role in bringing Johnny into this world. The candles were then lit one by one – each candle representing one day of Johnny’s life. Each day was unique. Each day was beautiful. Each was precious.
Near the end of the service, Dave, Lea and Juliana took the very last candle, representing Johnny’s last day on earth and used it to light one large candle, representing God and in so doing, giving Johnny back to God for all of eternity. It was a beautiful and powerful visual.
But for me, it was a reminder of the brevity of life. Long life is not a right, but an awesome blessing from God. There are many things that can irritate or aggravate one during the course of a day, week or month. But one does not know the hour or the day when God will call them home. It makes all those little annoyances seem so trivial. It also brought back many reminders of a funeral 6 years ago that was not like Johnny’s at all. There my family grieved as those without hope and it truly was a very sad occasion since most of my family does not know the Lord. As one of those at Johnny’s funeral spoke about the many questions that Dave and Lea have, I was reminded of the many questions my family still asks and will not get good answers until they see the beauty of the cross and the reason for it. They are still grieving as those without hope.
It was a breath of fresh air to see this family grieving with hope, even though it has been an extremely hard week for them. To see them glorify God in the midst of their sadness was encouraging to my faith.