I am sitting in the study after being a part of a funeral/celebration service for one of our long-time members. His name is Steve McCaffrey, and he died unexpectedly at the young age of 60 this past Sunday morning, about an hour before our morning services. By every human means possible, we are confident he is with Jesus at this moment.
During the service, I was deeply moved by the testimonies of his life. One person put it this way, “His life was a sermon, and it was really well preached.” Well said.
As I sat there (before preaching from Psalm 27), a couple of thoughts came to mind. First, I would like to hear similar remarks at my funeral. I thought this not out of a sinful pride (“I hope such things will be said about me!”), rather, I truly thought it because what I observed and heard this afternoon reminded me of what Paul said to the Corinthians:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Steve McCaffrey was an imitator of Jesus. This witness of his life, seen and heard clearly at his death, placed in others a desire to be like Steve, in as much as he was like his Savior. This is a glory to God, and I pray it will be true of me.
A second thought came to mind. Namely, when suffering comes, it reminds us again of our human struggle to figure out what is truly best in this life. Further, that what I think is best may not be how God defines what is best. C.S. Lewis said it this way ::
We’re not doubting that God will do the best for us, we’re wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
Is this not true? Was it not Dickens who also quipped, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? This is the continual paradox of the Christian life. Sometimes our sweetest experiences of the presence of God come during the bitterest of temporal realities.
I am grateful for all that Steve McCaffrey has taught me in his death. I am sobered that it could only happen because of how well he lived. Reflecting on today, I have a newfound energy and desire to not waste my life.
Thank you Jesus for making Steve your own, shaping him into the follower of Jesus, husband, father, and friend that he was.
And, bless those who are left behind, still struggling to figure out what is “best,” as he begins his best life now.