Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Working at a mega church in a central location in South Florida lends itself to opportunities for ministry. Usually I just stay in my classroom and tend to my students but yesterday as I was having lunch in our restaurant I noticed a few uniformed men. Firefighters. The indication that they were not just here for lunch was a black band covering the badge on their uniform, a fallen firefighter. Today in our sanctuary was another firefighter funeral. I am sure their were firefighter funerals here prior to James death but funny thing is I can’t remember one nor did I attend one, however, after his death, I have attended over ten funerals and most of them were for firefighters or police officers.
I approached the three uniformed firemen having lunch and asked for the details. Who, what, when, how? Within that conversation, I was able to give them Finally Home and make arrangements to get a copy of my book to the widow of the fallen hero. The good news is that is was a celebration. This widow and two children would be comforted and had a peace in the passing of her husband and their father because he was a believer and spent the last five years on this earth battling cancer and preaching life through Jesus Christ.
As typical of the Lord, He made a way for me in my schedule to attend an hour of the funeral. I walked in just in time to hear the widow speak. You may have thought at first glance that she was just a friend or a minister of the church because her strength and composure was firm. I can remember people telling me the same, how they were blown away with my ability to stand so strong and speak so clearly at my husband’s funeral. I watch the video of Avery and I speaking that day and I am in awe of the same (you can view it here). The power of the Holy Spirit! This was the first firefighter funeral I have attended of a solid believer with a family of the same. It was glorious! Now, don’t get me wrong, I know her pain, her loneliness and the fears she will face in the coming days and years, but I also know the peace, power, comfort and strength God provides as well. It’s just like in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 where is says that we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” And even though this woman knew her husband would die soon with his Stage IV cancer diagnosis, they didn’t know exactly when. With James, I had no clue that the morning he left for work would be the last time I would see him here on Earth. The Bible says that the day or hour of His return no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father. Meditating on this truth today, I found myself asking this question, “What if I did know that Christ would return tonight? How would I live today?” I leave you with the same question. I can tell you what I wouldn’t do, waste time with the little things and focus on the things that impact eternity. I would be talking to, loving on, and boldly teaching Jesus. That sounds like a good plan for today and everyday…just in case.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42
In Memory of Wayne Anthony Ware, Lauderhill Fire Rescue. May 20, 1958 – January 31, 2014