Friday, November 09, 2007

The Funeral

He was 35 years old when the civil war began. He was a small man working for a farm in the rural south of Gondor when the call to arms came. The Islamic fundamentalists had been plowing through the countryside terrorizing everyone. Their ideologues were declaring all things modern to be anti-Islamic. They were destroying everything and they were headed for the main hydro-electric power plant in the country. He grabbed a rifle and headed up the mountain to the dam and they saved the plant- for which I am most very thankful! Then seven men from his town took control of the situation. These were violent fearful men. The government was in complete disarray so they emptied out the prisons, reorganized the armed forces with the new recruits and got to work. They went house to house through village after village killing and plundering the Islamic fundamentalists who had just a few months before been killing and plundering themselves. One night he was taken by these men out to a village that was favorable to the Islamic opposition. They broke down the door of a home and dragged out an old man with a long white beard, his daughters screaming and begging for mercy. The men told him that this man was a fundamentalist and he must shoot him. He raised his rifle, tears streamed down his face. He heard the cries of the women, the shouts of his friends. He put the gun down and walked out of the yard and went back home. In my eyes and the eyes of his sons he never stood as tall as he did that night but he never forgave himself for not being able to kill that man. His seat at the table of power and position was given to someone else. Later on, after the war was over and over one hundred thousand men and women of Gondor had lost their lives he drove a car for some of these men. It was all the work he could find.

I met him through his second son. I gave his son a job and then helped him get a better job. I recognized that his son was a special and talented young man and I continued to mentor and aid him as I could. I spoke to him about God and spiritual things but he didn't hear me. The only thing that mattered to him, to his father, and to his whole family was to make up for that one mistake, to prove to the whole community that this was a great and honorable family. So, they worked hard and they built a nice house. My friend had a great wedding with hundreds of guests. He is now a businessmen working with an international business.

On Wednesday we buried his father. He had been sick for about a month but then was completely better so the heart attack caught them completely off-guard. He was fifty years old when I got the call to head for the village immediately. I drove with a friend the two hours over the pass to the small town where they live. As I walked into the yard I heard the normal wailing of the women who always cry loud and long during funerals but I was surprised that the men where also crying and wailing. My friend was beside himself with grief. His father, a good man, was gone forever. I held him but had no words of comfort to offer. We took his father up on the hill and laid his body in a hole and filled it in. For those who do not know Jesus Christ death is a very final and bitter reality.

This family is responsible for its own eternity. God has given us the power to choose and this man has chosen. I told him the truth and I lived the truth before him. I have no regrets about how I conducted my life in relation to them. But somehow that is not good enough. How do we really release the saving power of Christ into the lives of men and women who are bound up by the lies of power, prestige, and pride? I think that God is moving among us and teaching us more and more about how to join Him in the work that He is doing. He is redeeming men and women. He will make the kingdom of this world into His very own Kingdom. Transformation has happened, is happening, will ultimately happen. In my next post I hope to deal more thoroughly with the topic of evangelism. In the meantime, everyone around us is dying. Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. Somehow, these two realities must meet, sit down together and have tea.


Angie said...

Good morning Strider, In my weak way I relate to this story. I see a lot of ppl trying to make up for SOMETHING. I am guilty of the same as we all are, so the sad thing here (to me) is that man tried to make up his weakness in mans eyes to please man, when in all reality by him laying down the gun and walking away is what Jesus would want him to do for peace sake. Culture played a large part of that I understand that. The tricky part for me is we don't know for sure.... maybe he made peace before he died. Thanks for sharing, Angie.

Strider said...

No Angie, he didn't make peace which is why we are left wondering what else we could be doing. The costs are too high to be haphazard, lazy, or indifferent. They are too high to hope for the best or just plead ignorance. In my next post I will talk about some things we ought to be doing- and more importantly what I believe God is up to.

Angie said...

Okay Strider... it sounds as if you are under significant stress and if so naturally I will lift you and your family up! Looking forward to your next post.

marie said...

How frustrating this must be for you.

Will this open a door for you to go a little deeper in the ways of Christ with your friend?

I pray those "around you that are dying" will see and yearn for the Life that is in you. LORD, make it so!

Paul Burleson said...


These are profound words and painfully expessed feelings and questions. I'm grateful for all of those things.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts to come.

Strider said...

Angie, I AM NOT STRESSSED!!! Just kidding, actually I am not uptight or stressed out. Rereading my last comment to you I can see that I came across that way and I apologize. My point is simple: Lots and lots of real people are dying without Jesus. What can we do about that?

Marie, thanks for praying.

Paul, I believe this is your first commnet here. Welcome to Middle Earth. I am working on the follow-up post now and I hope it will be honest, fresh, and challenging to us all.