This past Wednesday, I attended the funeral for my best friend’s mom. She was a wonderful woman I’d known near 30 years who finally went home to Jesus. I got there early and stuck around for a couple hours, talking with good friends, some of whom I have not seen in many months if not years. After about 2 hours, I stepped away to go grab a beer at the Legion.
So I get there and proceed to catch up with some other folks I haven’t seen in quite some time. One of which is a devout Catholic who has undergone some significant health issues recently that affected him so greatly he couldn’t shake my right hand when we greeted each other. He explained what happened, and I prayed to God for his healing.
Before I left, he shook my right hand and his concerns as to why he couldn’t previously seemed unwarranted. It was the same firm grip I always remembered. I continue to pray to God for his recovery and hope to hear more good news.
After a couple beers I decide to head out. My plan is to head home, change out of my suit, grab the card my Mom picked up, and then head to my friend’s house. There was no plan on my part to go back to the funeral home. Then I got a text – the priest or “religious person” as they put it hadn’t arrived yet. I didn’t want to miss the actual service so I drove back.
I pull in and park, and as I do, the priest arrives. I walk in to the funeral home, into the room where everyone is quietly waiting and they all sort of stare at me as I walk in. I stammered “Oh, the priest is coming, he just pulled in!” then proceeded to go hide in the back with my friends. A few moments later, my best friend taps me on the shoulder and pulls me aside.
We’re now in the hallway outside the room, and there is his father and the priest. They’re asking me if I would be comfortable reading the scriptures during the service. I’m gobsmacked for about a blink’s length and agree to help. We agree that the priest would call me up when we reach that portion of the funeral service.
So he does, and without any hesitation I rise up and walk to the podium. What I read next was a section of the scriptures from 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, which discussed the assurance of the resurrection, as well as the judgment seat of Christ.
5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.2 Corinthians 5:1-10
I walked back to my seat and the folks around me were like “good job!” I kind of sat there with my head in my hands for a moment. I’ve read scripture before, but never in front of a large crowd let alone a room full of grieving friends. I didn’t stammer or stutter once like I usually do. The words flowed, while I was fully at peace and fully aware of Jesus’s presence.
Once more I went up, now it’s been decades since I attended any Catholic service, but I read again (not scripture this time) and felt the same peace and presence. When it was done, my mind, my very soul was buzzing. Outside a few folks complimented me again on my reading which I thought was a little odd, but in those moments for lack of a better description…
I felt called, I was overwhelmed.
So I got in my car where I wept and prayed as I drove back to my mom’s house. I thanked God for that opportunity and loudly proclaimed Him. I finally get home and let my mom know what happened, she was equally as gobsmacked as I was.
Now I don’t know what is next for me, but I know that sharing the Word is going to be a massive part of it. My nerves kicked in hours later as my own fragile human ego began to second guess what I experienced, but I know in my heart it was real and true.
The threads were there, perfectly lined up. Last week I wasn’t sure whether I would drive up, yet I did. I wasn’t sure how long to stay at the service, what to do or say other than offer condolences and some random humor like I always do. I left and got to catch up with an old friend who was recovering from an awful illness only to return just in time to share the Word.
Some may call all of that coincidence, or purely random, but I call it God clearing His throat and getting the attention of a lonely sinner who until that very moment had no clue whatsoever what the next chapter of his life would look like. God yanked me out of my comfort zone and it was awesome!