Encountering God at a Funeral

When my grandmother passed away earlier this year, all of the male grandchildren and great grandchildren were asked to be pallbearers.  This was my first time as a pallbearer so I was not sure what to expect.  What if the casket is too heavy or if it drops.  I think these are normal thoughts that go through a person’s mind, but maybe not.

Well, all of the pallbearers were sitting together and you could see various stages of emotions cross their faces.  I often wonder what other people are thinking.  I could blindly assume we all think the same way, but that is ignorant and being that I am not very close to that side of my family, I am never really sure what they think.

The service was really nice.  There had been tension between the children on how everything should go, so there ended up being two pastors who spoke.  The first one was my father’s pastor, whom I knew, and the other one was the pastor at the church where my grandmother attended.  I say it like that as most of my family is Baptist, but they are going through a common stage where they are looking for something “more” spiritually.

I liked the Baptist pastor a lot.  I have never met the man before, but he was passionate and had a connection to God.  It was during his speech that I heard him talk about my grandmother’s faith.  She was devoted to church, but she had prayed everyday for her family.  I knew she had prayed, but no clue about the extent of her prayer life.  While I was sitting there, I was pulled out of my thoughts when I heard the young pastor talk about how she prayed for family and specifically one of them who never believed in God but had since turned their life over and was now saved.

That hit home with me as that is my story, but I had never talked to the pastor before so I figured he was talking about my uncle.  It was odd to hear that, but it reaffirmed that God works through prayer.

After the funeral, family and friends went to the local community center and ate and had fellowship with each other.  I questioned to my dad about what was said and he did not recall hearing that.  When I was able to speak to the young pastor about that portion of his sermon, he denied having said anything like that.

I was positive that I heard that being said, but with the pastor denying saying it, I knew it was the work of the Holy Spirit.    What I heard was meant for me and spoken by God.  Now it came through the voice of the pastor, at least as far I could tell, but I know God was letting me know that He had been present in my life since the beginning and that others have been praying for salvation since birth.

The feeling I got from that was and is still overwhelming.

God says to get Married?

I find the number of young Christians that I encounter that truly believe that getting married and having a family is the purpose they have in life to be an interesting phenomenon. When I say young here, I am actually referring to men and women under the age of 40. I suppose that makes young relative, but once you get closer to 40, marriage might be a nice idea but not as much of a necessity.

These youngsters, I am with in this age group so I can say that, seem so lost as they are not getting married right away and feel that something is impeding God’s will. This something is usually called the devil by some, but I think it is a different source that I will address a bit later. There is a determination in them that drives them to find a mate and usually causes them to whine about the delay in their life.

Women make up the majority of this group, but there are men in this group as well. The group is made up of many denominations as well, so it is not just fundies. They come from large cities and smaller towns as well. The demographics for this group is fairly diverse with the exception that they all come from the south. Well, the South and Midwest regions as some come from Ohio, Indiana and one from Michigan.

What gets me is the ideology that these people hold on to that their life is not complete without a mate. Now I am sure, in some of the cases that marriage is in the future for them. Some of them will get tired of waiting and end up settling on their spouse, but they will justify it as the will of God, so it will all work out in the end. Typically, I have found that they usually end up in divorce with the saying that it was not in God’s will for the marriage to last

This is what brings me to the frustration that I am sharing today. Why is it God’s will for someone to get married, but it is not His will for the marriage to work? Why does the Bible say that God hates divorce, but despite that, it’s just not His will for the marriage to work out? We all know that the lack of will comes back to the people getting the divorce. It is not their will to work on the marriage and compromise as to who they are to make a solid “one”. It was most likely not God’s will for the marriage to happen in the first place, but that need to get married was so strong that it confused people as to what the force behind the desire actually was.

Where do these people get the idea that they are supposed to get married and live happy Christian lives? I am not speaking ill of them, but this mentality must be coming from somewhere, right?

To me, this is another case where the church has gotten confused with western culture. The American dream is to get married and have a family and all the stuff that goes along with that story that we have been fed over generations. That is the culture we grew up in. One of the ways we measure our success in life is over our family situation. Until recently, it was odd for men to have not been married and women who never married were seen as a sort of pariah.

Getting married is not our biblical purpose though.

Notice my use of the word “biblical” which makes the sentence more authoritative and factual. The Bible does not really address us and marriage though. Yes, Jesus said a man should cling to a woman and the two fleshes becomes one. Paraphrased, but Jesus never said everyone should go out and get married.

When we are looking at the history of the time frame that the Bible was written over, we see that people got married. Actually, men wanted a wife and struck a deal with the father of a woman and got a bride. She did not have a lot of choice in the matter. Women still do not have a say over it in parts of the world, but this process was one based on culture practices and not the directive of God. God did say go forth and populate the earth (Gen 9:7), but He said that to Noah after wiping out the rest of mankind.

Maybe we are just taking that directive too literally. Are we all supposed to go out and have kids? The earth cannot sustain that type of population build up. As it is, we will exceed the natural production of the earth in less than 30 years, so why do we all need to populate the earth?

Guess it could be to create more Christians, which means more people in heaven, but we all know that kids born to Christian parents are not automatically Christians. Jesus told us to go forth and spread the gospel so people would be saved, so that is more in line with adoption than reproducing. Paul said that we should get married if we were unable to tame the desires of the flesh (i.e. wanting to have sex), but mentioned that it would compromise our relationship with God to some degree. It is hard to be totally focused on God when we are focused on pleasing our partner as well as ourselves.

I think we can agree that the true purpose for the Christian, as well as everyone else even if they refuse to acknowledge it, is to worship God with everything. That is what we are told that God wants right?

So why do we allow western culture take over Christianity? When we are given a way to live and it is laid out pretty clearly, why do we allow the manmade ideas to take over our and become our focus?