I was asked to officiate at the funeral of a man named Charles Dillard. I didn’t know why his family wanted to have the services at our church or why they wanted me to deliver the eulogy. However, I felt that this was another opportunity for the church to share Christ through service. I asked God to give me the time, energy, and patience to work in His behalf that His name would be glorified.
I arranged to meet with the family to speak words of comfort and to assist them in preparing for the service. While doing this, I learned something about the kind of person Charles was. I discovered that he truly loved God and tried to be an encouragement to others even while suffering with his own illness. I was heartened to learn that though he wasn’t a member of any particular church, he had lived his life trying to be a blessing to others.
The funeral went smoothly, and the family seemed very pleased. Clearly, the Lord had blessed every aspect of the service. I thanked God once again for His faithfulness. As I was preparing to leave for home a well-meaning church member asked me why I would take the time to provide a service for people who weren’t “in the church” and whom I really didn’t know.
“Well,” I said, “I think that’s why the church exists: to share the love of Christ without any conditions or expectations.” I left with a feeling of satisfaction that the Lord had enabled me to manage one small part of His vineyard just as He would wish it.
Three weeks went by, and the funeral became a distant memory, mostly buried by a myriad of pastoral functions and responsibilities. I began opening mail that had been piling up on my desk for several days. I found a beautiful card from a couple whose names I did not recognize. Written inside was a brief note. It explained how Charles, whom they had just recently met in the hospital, had been such an encouragement to them when the wife was adjusting to receiving dialysis treatment on a regular basis. Despite the brevity of time that Charles had entered her life, his infectious optimism had enriched her faith and outlook.
Learning of Charles’s death, this couple felt directed to attend the funeral. Upon leaving the service, both were moved by the power of God and by the dignified way the service was conducted. They were impressed to thank me tangibly for being kind to people that I did not know. Though they had never met me personally, they were inspired to be a blessing to me.
Inside the envelope I found a check for $1,000, with a note attached that said: “To be used only for your family.” What an unexpected blessing!
To me it seems clear that God was making a very direct connection between my unencumbered willingness to be a blessing to someone else and the return blessing He arranged in that surprising gift to me.
What a mighty God we serve!
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
By Emil Dean Peeler
Do you have a stewardship story? Tell it to us: Share Your Stewardship Story » NAD Stewardship