I used to receive the Rochester N.Y. daily newspaper up until about six months ago. I really enjoyed skimming the headlines every day, but as the paper became thinner and thinner and the price continued to climb higher and higher, it became increasingly harder to justify. After I downloaded the newspaper’s app to my iPhone, I found I didn’t need the hard copy paper at all and stopped delivery. In addition to the local news stories, I like the app because it displays the daily obituaries. When people reach a certain age, they generally become interested in scanning the daily obits for the names of old neighbors, friends, classmates, workmates, etc.; yet another official qualification for senior citizenship!
As I was scanning the obits the other day, I came across the name of David N. Both the name and accompanying photo looked very familiar. I cracked the whip and the tired ol’ brain neurons began firing up again and leaping across those worn-out synapses. It was thirty-five years ago, but I began to recall that Dave had been a member at the first Gospel-preaching church my wife and I attended after we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior in the early 1980s.
Dave was around 25 at the time, a couple of years younger than me. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but I remember Dave made me look like a gregarious big mouth. We used to participate in visitation together and during the preparations, Dave would keep his nose buried in his Bible the whole time without looking up or saying much. After a couple of years, Dave stopped coming to church and every once in awhile I wondered what had happened to him. The church had several problems, which I’ve previously written about, and my wife and I eventually stopped attending there ourselves in the early 1990s.
So here I was, thirty-six years later, reading Dave’s obituary via the newspaper’s app. In the obituary, there’s mention of Dave’s family, education, his employment, his passion for NFL football, and his love of animals, but there’s no mention of the Lord or any church-affiliated funeral services.
What happened? Dave was on-fire for the Lord way back in the day. Did he allow frustration with circumstances at our old church to derail his walk with the Lord as I had done? Or did his relatives neglect to give glory to God via the obituary and funeral arrangements? Right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with education, a career, enjoying some football, or loving animals. But when we’re composing our 150-word obituary, let’s make sure we’re giving God the glory and pointing people to Jesus! Thousands of people read the local obits.
In our walk with the Lord, there are many who once walked beside us who fell away. We can try to help them and pray for them, but we mustn’t allow them to distract or discourage us. Our focus must remain on Jesus Christ. Whether others remain faithful is not our responsibility. We must give an account to the Lord only for ourselves.
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:17-18