A pastor friend of mine officiated at a lonely funeral this week. The man died at age 84, leaving no family. He never married. Never had children. His only sister passed away long ago. His nieces and nephews wanted nothing to do with him. The only ones who cared were a few neighbors and his friends at church. The last I heard, there wasn't even anyone to pay for the funeral.
There is a silver lining to this dark cloud -- the man knew Christ as his Savior. His existance now is infinitely better than it was last week or last year. Yet we wonder about those who slip through the cracks. Well, at least I wonder.
Today is All Saints Day, a day where we celebrate the lives of those in the faith who came before us. Not just those with "St." in front of their names, like Augustine, Francis or Patrick, but all those who carried on in the faith. The "faith of our fathers," so to speak. Some gave their lives defending the doctrines of Christianity, and books like Foxe's Book of Martyrs publicize the gory details. But there are plenty more saints who are forgotten by history. Perhaps they are remembered by only a handful of family members.
Certainly the main goal of living the Christian life isn't fame. Some have fame thrust upon them by taking on the responsibility of the pastorate or leadership of some organization. Many others live their faith under the radar of the churched and unchurched alike.
I remember reading a quote from Billy Graham where someone asked him who he thought would have the greatest reward in heaven. The questioner was obviously trying to get a taste of pride from the evangelist. Instead, Rev. Graham suggested that it would probably be an older lady who spends her days in prayer for others. Someone you wouldn't expect. But maybe we should. After all, didn't Jesus tell us that if we want to be great, we must be less? The last shall become first, right?
I am thankful for the lives of those known perhaps only to God Himself, who lived faithful lives as godly influences on the people nearby. Also for the godly extended family who taught me the basics about Christ. And all those who sought to make themselves servants and fly under the radar -- not because they hid their faith, but because they did not seek the glory and gave it all to God Almighty. They have not slipped through the cracks, for God will reward what is done in secret. He is especially pleased when we don't seek a stroke for our egos, but instead acknowledge Him in everything. The deceased at the lonely funeral this week has been moved to the head table at the feast. For nothing escapes the notice of the Lord.