A good friend of mine lost his father Sunday and the funeral was today. I made the drive to the little country town where the funeral was happening, and wondered if I could find First Baptist Church by simply seeing the building. But a mile before I could even see the building, I was in a traffic jam! This little town whose population is around 1,000, and I’m stuck in a line of cars (and I was running late). Turns out, it was cars heading for the same funeral. That’s when the magnitude of this man’s life hit me.
I finally get into the neighborhood where the church is, and can’t park anywhere near it. The service has already started, and there is a line of people trying to get in that reaches from the Sanctuary of this little church to the street outside! I get in line and make it to my seat near the front. As I’m heading in, I notice that the Sanctuary is PACKED, like standing room only. THEN I notice there is a balcony that is full, too. WOW! I was amazed.
The service was great, by the way. A memorial that focused on Jesus and how He impacted hundreds of lives through Duane. By the time the service was over, I felt like I knew the man who had passed away even though I’d only met him once, and felt somewhat cheated that I’d never gotten to know a man that so many people loved!
As the service concluded, it was time for the viewing. I started doing the math, just trying to wrap my head around how many people had been packed into this country church. I watched the balcony empty, and started thinking about the numbers as I prepared to leave. THEN, another door opened in the back of the Sanctuary and I could see straight into an overflow room that was PACKED with almost as many people as the room I was in! The exit/viewing took almost as long as the service did. People stopped to hug the family, share smiles and tears, and to just show support for the family. All the while I’m thinking, “This was a GREAT man who impacted MANY lives.” And, as one is prone to do at funerals, I began to think about my own life and impending death. It was at that point that God drove home something that had been said earlier in the service about Duane.
“He could have given money or gifts to people, but he chose to give people his time instead.”
As I made my exit, I hugged the family, prayed for them, and headed to my truck. But something had changed. I found myself in deep contemplation of what I had seen and heard. I thought about the better ways I could use my time. I began to think of people who could benefit from someone spending time with them. I made the long drive back to Lubbock, and as I pulled into town realized that, in spite of passing away last week, Duane had now touched my life, too. He lived for Christ. He loved as Christ. And what he leaves behind will continue to change lives. Although he’ll be sorely missed by his family, the people in Duane’s world are still being impacted by his testimony and life.
PS (1/24/10) – I spoke with Gary after initially posting this, and the family estimates that around 1,000 people were in attendance at Duane’s funeral. Â Simply amazing.