My husband and I recently traveled to Birmingham, AL to attend the funeral of his oldest brother’s wife who succumbed to cancer at the tender age of 59. I had not had the pleasure of meeting this fine woman, but by all accounts witnessed at this homegoing celebration, she was truly a wonderful woman who fought the good fight.
As we stood in the vestibule of the church before the funeral procession began with the ushering in of the immediate family, a lovely southern woman (the epitome of southern charm) greeted us and introduced herself as the first cousin of the deceased. I set the stage for this “defining moment” to give you a glimpse of my unfamiliarity with this entire situation. I did not know anyone there, other than my husband.
As the additional family members began to arrive and gather with us in the vestibule, this charming woman, the deceased woman’s cousins’ eyes began to fill with tears, as if the finality had just hit her. I embraced her shoulders to see if she was okay. She assured me quietly, “I’m alright. I thought I would be okay.” At that very moment, the Holy Spirit rose up inside of me in the midst of comforting her and prompted me to speak these words to her, “You ARE alright. Today is not a reason to be sad, but a reason to celebrate a new beginning. A beginning for her and a beginning for everyone that loves her, and we will not give in to the sorrow that the enemy wants to put on us. God knows that she is in a much better place than we are right now. So, be of good courage. You are fine and you can do this!”
She received this message with grace and mustered the courage to walk as a part of the family procession. At that very moment, I felt as though I was standing guard at a gate that separated heaven and earth. I was on my post to ensure that no evil entered. I was ready!
This was one of those defining moments that confirmed God’s purpose for my life; to stand in the gap, thwarting the enemy’s tactics for claiming victory over other’s lives.
This moment did not end here. As we entered the sanctuary, awaiting our walk to view the well prepared body of the deceased, the Holy Spirit prompted me again.
This time, to notice all of the sights and sounds of the space we had entered. From the doors of the sanctuary, I could hear the sounds of the close family members wailing as they passed by the open casket that was positioned at the front. As we proceeded to our seats and engaged our hearts into the experience, it dawned on me that the enemy uses these inevitable situations as a tactic to defeat us.
Because of unfamiliarity with the family, I had a keen ability to step back from the emotional situation at hand.
Please don’t misunderstand. My compassion was at an all time high as I continued to be on my post. As I sat observing the events that were playing out in front of me, the Holy Spirit allowed me to place myself above the situation to gain a different perspective.
It was at that very moment that I realized how wrong we were in calling these ceremonies “funerals”.
I have decided that because of the negative connotation associated with this ceremony, I will call these events New Beginning Ceremonies. A new beginning for everyone. Sometimes we have to challenge our belief systems as we know them and how they condition us to believe or see things.
A funeral is meant to place us in a position of mourning while New Beginnings prepare us for moving beyond grief.
I hope that you will take into consideration this altered perspective. As I indicated earlier, I was a stranger in this place for all intents and purposes, but God used me to offer strength and encouragement through the gifts he has placed inside of me. While it may have been easier for me to consider this new perspective at this given moment, I do believe that God was not only confirming my purpose, he was preparing me for such a time when this new-found perspective would comfort me in ways I would never have imagined without the experience of this defining moment.