I just got back from Lampung yesterday to give my last condolence and respect to a congregation member who passed away last saturday. The 6 hours travel worth a lovely funeral of a great person, a loving mom, a daughter, a grandchildren, a friend, a lovely person. She had been struggling with her cancer for 4 years and finally God gave her the best she could ever ask, to be by God’s side. Even on the last moment of her life, she faced it with a joyous heart praising the Lord. As many people admit in their last words on her funeral, she is an example of God’s grace until the moment of her death. She left 3 children that I hope will be a great person too like what their mother was.
It is interesting for me to found out that I always spent a lot of energy on these grieve occasions. I felt dried out and tired, not because I’m driving back and forth but more because of the event. Sitting there, watching almost everyone wore black, gloomy faces, sad spiritual songs, crying voices, all these things really had an effect for me. This makes me question myself, why do I feel these emotions? What do I feel about life and death? ….
Well, there is a song by ‘Cake’ that says, ‘as soon as you born you start dying…’ This is very true indeed. There is no certainty in life except the end of life itself. You will never know when your system choose to shut down, or even worse when something else will shut down your system. How come this life is so short? Then, what’s the meaning of this short life?
I think this is why people find religion is interesting. Religion offers something that really troubling human kind, where would we go after death. Human feels that it is too painful to leave earth in such a manner, and can’t accept that death is the end of everything. Religion offers life after death. If you are doing what is good you will continue life in a stupendous never ending atmosphere of happiness and joy and will receive the opposite when you are doing bad things. This is why people find comfort about the facts of death in a religion. Heart-soothing hymns, lovely choir, beautiful sermon, and the promise of a better life after death calm us.
This promise eventually demands us to be of benefit for our neighbor and even for all God’s living creation, and that’s what makes our life worth living. The expectation of future urges us to do what’s best today for the sake of others. Isn’t this interesting to find out that even when we are enjoying life today and make the most of it, it actually has a deep root on our dream of the future. What a marvelous life we are living. We are making the best of today out of our expectation of tomorrow. Some might not agree with me, but try to reflect more on your doings and why you are doing it, and soon you will find out that it is your expectation (or for some: your fear) of tomorrow that urges you to do those things.
Now let me go back to my first point. I think the first layers of reason why I feel really drained is because I felt so much empathy and I internalized the emotions surround me. The other layer is that I still fear death. I admit that I am still wondering whether I had done enough good things in this world as a reflection of a wonderful life that God has given me. My fear was more on I still did not do enough in my life, not because of my fear of hell, but because of not able to fulfill my anxiety to do so many things that God has made me capable of. Being in a situation like that draws my mind to reflect on myself, have I done enough?
This is a question that drives my action today to be a better person than yesterday.
I am anxious to make my life worthy for God because God has been so good to me. There’s no ulterior motive, there’s only cause. This is the main lesson that I hope to share with you. I hope I can be a good person worthy of a remembrance for God’s glory and not mine. I hope I can live a full life in its fullest meaning.
Jakarta, 18th March 2007
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