Funerals tend to put life into perspective for me. Coming face-to-face with my mortality shakes me up. Especially when the funeral is for someone I knew well. A loved one. A friend or family member. Someone I shared life with. And, when I hear spoken words describing the deceased and the impact he or she had on this world, well, my soul becomes stirred.
Stirred to the point of asking questions. Of desiring change. Of pondering any difference I’m making in this world. Wanting to be less selfish and more giving. Yearning to be a better friend, a better wife, a better momma, a better Christian.
A longing to be a better person.
Emotions filled me and stirrings like these consumed me yesterday during the funeral of our neighbors. This wonderful couple was killed last week in Florida on vacation in a motorcycle accident. Leaving a loving, incredible family and many wonderful friends behind, their legacy of faith, love, and hope lives on. But, a gaping hole now exists in the lives of all who loved and knew them. Including me and my husband.
I want to be more like Virginia and Bruce.
The pastor shared some tangible ways Virginia and Bruce brought God’s goodness to this world. He pointed out how they lived their lives and how they made a difference in the lives of countless others. They worked hard, served wholeheartedly, loved big, and gave of themselves. Joy and delight accompanied them. Their smiles indicated their attitudes. They shared their love of Jesus in their every day lives.
I want to be more like that.
I believe there’s a desire in each of us to be better people. Don’t you? I mean, God created us. His fingerprints are all over us. And because so, I believe a deep longing is present within each of us to be nicer, kinder, more humble, better. Because our Creator is, we desire to be, too. Not for your sake or for mine, but for His glory and for the good of others.
I want to:
- think less of me and more of others.
- serve God and others in ways that go beyond what’s expected or appreciated or even noticed.
- be a blessing to everyone. Everyone.
- live my life with humility and kindness.
- share my faith and shower people with the love of Jesus.
- live each day with joy and delight.
But, I know I can’t be better on my own. Goodness. I’ve tried. I’ve focused on it. I have intentionally set out to be a better person. Again, and again, and again. However, I fail. Oh, how I’ve failed. Again, and again, and again.
I can’t be a better person on my own.
My thoughts follow what’s in my heart. My actions follow my thoughts. Becoming a better person starts within my heart. I can’t change my heart on my own. Only God can do that.
God help me. Change my heart. Replace my stone-cold heart with one that’s turned to you, your ways, and toward others.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.Psalm 51:10 NIV
Even though God’s words through Ezekiel were for Israel, I can claim this verse for me today:
I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.Ezekiel 36:26 MSG
Only in His strength and power can I be better. Only by His grace and mercy can I be better.
I can only be a better person by His transforming power.
I believe this was the secret with our neighbors. Virginia and Bruce were transformed by following Jesus.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.Philippians 2:1-4 MSG
Yep. These words describe Virginia and Bruce. Their presence will be missed in the days to come. That’s without question. But, God is already using their examples to inspire one of their neighbors to be a better person. To serve, give, help, smile, love, and live like they did. To make a difference with the time given here on earth.
I’ll see them again some day and I will tell them what a difference they made in my life. Well done, good and faithful servants. Well done.
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