This September I will celebrate my 30threunion with hundreds of other West Point classmates who graduated in 1981. One of our traditions is to meet in the Cadet Chapel for a memorial service remembering our deceased classmates. Darryl will read twenty two names and then finish with Daren Hidalgo, a 2009 graduate killed in Afghanistan. Daren is the son of our classmate Jorge. Somber air will mark the mention of each friend. But in the hush of those granite, shadowed halls it will be a different hurt that salutes a son of our own.
We do well to acknowledge the pain that grips our heart with the passing of those we treasure. King Solomon once wrote, “Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure” (Ecclesiastes 7:3,4). How does grief make a heart glad? Perhaps the recognition that still living we should be thankful. Maybe it is our opportunity to make more of what was lost; to gain understanding from those who left us. Perhaps it is the recognition of soul searching; of looking inward and revaluing what matters most. Maybe it is the knowledge that those who died are free of pain or turmoil.
My memories reach back to Brian Haller, my best friend and fellow commander, the one whose name lives forward in our oldest son. He is the only man I have ever known who could read me and discern if something was wrong. He will be one of the first of friends and family I look forward to hugging in heaven.
Exodus 12:14,26,27—This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the LORD. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute . . . When your children ask you, “What does this ritual mean to you?” you are to reply, “It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and spared our homes.” So the people bowed down and worshiped.
Memorials preserve our memories of both people and events. And while with people it is death that we recognize, it is life that we honor. What is profound is not what decays or passes from the ranks of the living but the fact that the past marches forward.
Jesus, the world’s most celebrated and controversial Rabbi offered His followers a promise when He said to them, “In a little while the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live too. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you” (John 14:19,20). The world would not visibly see Him because He would die, yet how many invisibly see Him because He lives? The paradox is not in what we see but in what we don’t see. If we are honest, as we remember those who are gone, we must ask ourselves are we living to die or dying to live? How we answer that question says much about us and about how and who we honor. Is it fate that wraps its arms around us in death, or faith we wrap our arms around in life? Perhaps old mourning is not such a bad thing and this morning—renewed time to celebrate.
Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now . . . I was born of the flesh in 1837, I was born of the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever.—Dwight L. Moody
©2011 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)