Thy Will Be Done

R.I.P. Jeff Dock

A couple of years ago, Jeff asked me to share a specific joke at his funeral one day. Neither of us thought it would happen so soon, but here it goes.

Boudreaux, Thibodeaux, and Abar were talking about their funerals, and Boudreaux asked them, “What do you want people to say at your funeral?”

Thibodeaux said, “He was a good man.”
Abar said, “He was a hard worker.
What do you want them to say at your funeral, Boudreaux?”
Boudreaux thought for a moment and then said, “Look! He moved.”

Yeah, I know. Those jokes were only funny because Jeff enjoyed telling them so much.

But I wish it were true. I wish Jeff would move. I wish he would pop up, go sit in his spot over there, talk to me after the service, and then go read the Bible alone in the back — choosing fellowship with the Lord over fellowship with others.

I wish it were true for L’Anna. I wish it were true for the kids. I wish it were true for you. But I wish it were true for our sake, not for his.

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It’s normal to think Jeff deserved more:
he deserved more days and more years,
he deserved more campfires and more football games,
he deserved to retire with L’Anna,
to be Alisha’s wisdom and support as a teacher,
to see the man Adam is becoming,
to someday walk Alaina down the aisle,
to hold Alan and Amanda’s newborn girl during the Christmas Eve service.
It’s normal to think Jeff deserved more.

But I spend enough time at hospitals, nursing homes, and funeral homes to hold a different opinion.

I thank God that Jeff did not have unusual symptoms followed by multiple doctor appointments, diagnoses, treatments, surgeries, and pain.

I thank God that Jeff did not have a lapsed church attendance, followed by unsaid prayers and an unopened Bible, and concluded with an awkward funeral sermon.

I thank God that Jeff did not get confused, forgetful, neglect to take his meds, have his kids away his car keys and pack up a few pictures to take with him to the nursing home.

Instead, there was just a man enjoying a freshly-mowed lawn on the back porch swing on a perfect September Sunday afternoon, and then drifting off into glory.

He deserved that.

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Paradox is “a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses…truth.” (dictionary.com)

Jeff was a paradox.

He was strong and warm,
he was a leader and a softy,
he was driven and vulnerable,
he was a charismatic leader who could cry during the sermon,
he was highly energetic even when he relaxed,
he was a yankee who told cajun jokes.

Jeff was a paradox, but this is a good place for paradox.
This is the place where sinners are crowned saints,
where mortals are declared eternal,
where strangers become family,
where hipsters hang out with those with hip replacements,
where we love classical organ and electric guitar,
where those who don’t have it all together are declared the blessed of the Lord.

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“God knows all the stories in this room.”
God knows each of us better than we know ourselves.
Even the parts of us we ignore,
even the parts of us we have forgotten,
even the parts of us we exaggerate,
even the parts of us that seem a paradox,
even the parts of us we think no one else knows.
God knows each of us better than we know ourselves.

And here is how the God who knows us so well summarizes the human heart:
“None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 ESV).
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23).
And yet “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8).
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23).
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1).
But “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (10:9).

Last Sunday I reminded the congregation that none of us knows when our time is up:
it was true that day for Jeff,
it’s true today for you;
you might not make it through the day either.
But more important than knowing when you are going is knowing where you are going.

Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

He says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Jeff was one of those few.

In response to what God had done for him throughout his days, Jeff gave God his affection, his attention, and his trust.

Today, God seeks your attention, your affection, and your trust,
because one day,
maybe today,
your time too will be up,
when the trumpets sound across the galaxy,
and sun and moon shine no more,
and time itself runs out of time,
when the condemned are dismissed,
while the redeemed of the Lord gather around the throne,
surrounded by 100 million angels declaring the holiness of God,
that day,
God “will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Revelation 21:4 NRSV)
unexpected funerals and undeserved endings will be no more,
broken hearts and broken bodies will be no more,
chemo and radiation and hospice will be no more,
a couple praying for a baby but being disappointed month after month will be no more,
a school turned into a massacre will be no more,
a young woman sobbing in front of a flag-draped casket will be no more,
a father holding his little girl only every other weekend will be no more,
a child saying, “Momma, I’m hungry” and hearing, “I’m sorry, baby” will be no more,
for even if today we cannot say, “Look! Jeff moved”
we know that one great day God will move,
And on that day “the morning stars will sing together
and the sons of God will shout for joy” (Job 38:7).