“When my brother-in-law, Jim, was 18, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and told he only had a few months to live. The Lord had other plans though, and following treatment, Jim lived a full life for the next 22 years. In the summer of 2004, the tumor unexpectedly returned, and in time it became clear that medical treatments weren’t going to save him. Again he was told that only a few short months remained. This time it was true.
At his memorial service, the pastor gave friends and family an opportunity to people to speak about Jim. One by one, people shared brief stories they remembered. And like colors being added to a canvas, a portrait began to emerge.
There were stories about the many mission trips Jim had taken, including tough ones I would’ve shied away from, such as street witnessing at Spring Break and Mardi Gras. Memories of stopping on road trips and waiting for Jim to finish talking about the Lord with a stranger he’d befriended. Stories of going on a walk with Jim just weeks before he died and having him break down in tears of concern over three friends he’d been praying would come to know Jesus.
One simple but profound observation summed things up: “Jim was a brother to anyone who needed one, and a friend to anyone who wanted one.”
Reflecting later I thought, “That’s exactly what Jim would’ve wanted his memorial service to be like.” Even as we remembered his past, the memories he left with us kept pointing us toward his future.
Another funeral observation took longer for me to absorb. Evidently, when Jim was told he only had a couple months left, he didn’t make any significant life adjustments. Think about that. If you only had two months left in this life, would you spend it living exactly like you are now? Would next weekend resemble this past one if you only had a handful of weekends left? In Jim’s case, his daily life was already tuned to the frequency of the priorities that defined him, so there was little to change.”