What If We Started Eulogizing the Living?

 

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A dear friend of mine died last week. Someone I grew up with. We went all through school together, and as adults, worshiped together at the same church in Orlando until John and I moved to Dallas. He died suddenly – an “aortic rupture”. I find great mercy in that. As John and I often say, “You gotta go sometime, so pray it’s quick and painless and that you’re swept up in the arms of Jesus before you realize what’s happened.” My friend was “home” before he knew what hit him. But that’s not the point of my writing today.

Once the death of my friend made the social media circuits thousands of beautiful words of remembrance began populating his FaceBook page. Folks were unabashed to declare publicly just how much our friend had meant to them personally. They were heartfelt words from both men and women. Words of love, and praise, and respect, and honor… and they were simply lovely to read.

Clearly he was greatly and dearly loved.

Clearly he had made quite an impact.

 Clearly he’d left quite a legacy.

It made me wonder whether he’d known that while he was living.

Eulogizing the dead is socially appropriate if not expected. Not to be morbid, but it is usually the part of anyone’s memorial service that we look forward to most; hearing the good words people have to say about the dearly departed as they celebrate a life-well-lived. It seems that most of us are quick and generous to allow words of blessing, love, appreciation, and admiration spill from our lips… after a person is no longer around to hear them. Or we save the best things, the “things I wish I’d said” for last…when it’s too late for them to matter to the one you’re lavishing a good word on.

And what’s that all about?

Now, admittedly I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but doesn’t it make more sense to tell somebody all the good things you think about them while they’re alive?  To bless them while they’re here to receive the blessing?

It occurred to me: What would happen if we began making a habit out of eulogizing the living?

 Think that’s morbid? I don’t.

The English word “eulogize” comes from the compound Greek word eulogeo which means, to bless, to speak well of, to praise another… with words. So basically, a eulogy is words of blessing and praise spoken over or about a person.

Why do we wait until a person is dead to say such beautiful things? And what difference might we make in a living person’s life if we’d just simply lay a little eulogeo on them for no big-deal-reason, but just because.

I’m a huge fan of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. I’ve read it over and over throughout my walk with Jesus; I’ve taught it, prayed it, and memorized parts of it. It’s a beautiful framework for how to live life on this planet as a true follower of Jesus, and the message never ceases to blow my mind. In his opening words Paul reminds us that God has “…blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly place…” (Ephesians 1:3, ESV). That’s a lotta blessing!!! Yep, you got it… that’s the word eulogeo. Paul tells us that God has spoken and continues to speak words of blessing and praise over His followers. Simply put- God speaks well of you, my friend. All the time. Not just after you’re dead. That knowledge should so shift our thinking that you and I would not hesitate for one second to speak a good word of blessing and praise over another. Just because.  Just because life is too short not to.

I told you earlier that my friend went “home” quite suddenly. No warning. No long goodbye. Yes, “quickly” is a merciful way to go if you’re the one going. It’s not so merciful if you’re the one left behind with a mouthful of sweet words choking you; words you’d wished you’d spoken a dozen times over and years sooner.

The Bible says that “the tongue can speak words that bring life or death…” (Proverbs 18:21, ERV). Our words have the power to give life, to build others up, to encourage them, inspire them, give them hope, redirect their path, to help them to see things from God’s perspective.  But if we never speak them they are worthless.  Thinking a good word of blessing is not eulogeo. Biblically speaking, the good word has to be spoken in order to be a blessing and bring a blessing to the one we aim to bless.  

What do you suppose would happen if you and I began the practice of eulogizing the living in our lives?

  • Have you been withholding words of blessing and praise, gratitude or admiration from someone? Stop withholding and start eulogeo!
  • Have you been meaning to tell someone how much he or she means to you? How much you love them or admire them? How much they’ve impacted your life for good? Sit down today and make that call.  Write that letter. Meet that friend for coffee or lunch and eulogize them them face-to-face.
  • Maybe there’s someone who bugs the snot out of you, or with whom you’ve been offended or held a grudge. Stop right now, and let words of eulogeo spill from your lips. It will bless your own heart to do so!

Let’s be people who speak our words liberally and beautifully to eulogize the living. I believe speaking blessing now has the profound potential to change the world we live in for the better.  For good!

You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!

 

 

Photo Credit: Larry White Photography  

 

 

Surprised by Motherhood

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I don’t think there has ever been a woman more surprised by motherhood than Sarah.  You know, Sarah: the beautiful wife of Abraham, the patriarch of our faith.  Sarah- the one who doubted that God could or would actually do what He’d said He would do.  Sarah- who got tired of waiting for God’s promise to come so she took matters into her own hands and royally botched things up.  Yes, Sarah- the one who laughed at God’s crazy idea that she’d actually conceive a child “when she was past the age” (Hebrews 11:11).  Past the age may be just a bit of an understatement!  She was 90 when she became pregnant, and 91 when she gave birth to Isaac.  Yep- ninety. one. years. old. That’s old!  That’s tired, worn out, and dried up old.  But that didn’t matter because God had not stamped an expiration date on Sarah’s ability to conceive and mother a child.  Age wasn’t a disqualifier for Sarah’s fruitfulness in God’s eyes.  In fact, God chose Sarah and appointed her, knowing precisely how old she would be when He fulfilled His promise to her and Abraham. It seemed impossible because, humanly speaking, it was.  But not with God.

Impossible is where God just gets started. 

Impossible is what God does best. 

Impossible is what gives God glory.    

So there Sarah was…living the impossible dream of holding her baby boy in her arms, bouncing Isaac on her knee, and all the while laughing with the One who’d returned laughter to her heart.  Laughing with joy and amazement, awe and wonder; feeling alive again, young again, purposeful and yes, needed; enjoying every precious moment of nurturing her son, teaching him and helping him to grow up; delighting to see him become the man God created him to be.

Sarah- so sweetly surprised by motherhood, had discovered the full joy of doing what she’d been born to do: mother a child.

You were born to mother. 

In the Old Testament God’s command to His people was to “be fruitful and multiply”.  In the New Testament Jesus tells us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide (remain, last)…” (John 15:16).   That wasn’t an option, but a command…for every one of us.  And what God commands, He means for us to actually do.  Married or single; empty nest or empty womb; young, old or past the age…you and I were born to mother… to be fruitful, to bear much fruit that will lastAnd like Sarah, there’s no expiration date on your fruitfulness.  

 You were born to be a spiritual mother.

Take a look around you- a good, long, intentional look around you and see the beautiful women God has placed in your life.  In your various spheres of influence, your workplace, your neighborhood, the nail salon or the hair salon…even in your own church.  There are women who are in desperate need of a spiritual mama.  Young and not so young, women of all ages needing help that you can give her. And Help has a name, and His name is Jesus.  You give her Jesus!  You give her Jesus in what He’s done for you and who He is to you.

You tell her, and show her, and teach her, and encourage her. 

You exhort her and cry with her, pray with her and for her, laugh with her and celebrate with her. 

You share your life with her. You give her your time, and the truth of God’s blessed and life-changing Word. And you just love on her because we all need a spiritual mama to love us up in the way of the Lord.  You walk it out with her.  You help her grow up and become the women of God that He created her to be.  You show her how the Bible really works in the everyday life of a woman who follows Jesus- not perfectly, but progressingly.  You pass on what you possess.  You give her your authentic self and speak to her out of the overflow of a heart that’s been broken by life and healed by the kindness and love of a Savior who knows a woman’s heart better than anyone.  You pull her close and you let her go, and you make sure she understands that the greatest use of her life will be to invest it in the life of another for Christ… helping her to know how to help another woman become a fruit-bearing, reproducing disciple of Jesus Christ.

Nothing will surprise you or thrill your heart more than the joy of spiritual motherhood.  I know that from experience.  I’ve been surprised by spiritual motherhood and blessed beyond my wildest dreams.  Blessed indeed.

Psalm 78 and 148 exhort us that one generation is to tell the next of the greatness of God.  You and I have a responsibility- a very high calling and an eternal responsibility to tell the next generation; to raise up the generations behind us to become faith-walking, Bible-living, Jesus-loving women of God whose hearts beat wildly for the King of Kings!

YOU AND I WERE BORN TO SPIRITUALLY MOTHER FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!

Now get after it!

Happy Mother’s Day!

You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!

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