I had the privilege of leading a memorial service today (Wednesday) for George Diefenderfer. Here are some opening thoughts I shared with the family on what it is like to live in the in-between what we know and what we don't know.
Whenever we gather like this, there are some things we know and some that we don’t. We know George’s life was shorter than we would have wished. We know we will miss him dearly. We know that there will be a space in our lives only he can fill. We know these things.
We don’t know why he didn’t die from cancer 26 years ago when he had his first bout with it but we sure are glad for the extra time. We don’t know why he passed now when the doctors thought he might have the chance to live another couple of weeks or months. But we are glad he doesn’t have to suffer any more. We know George is at peace because he prayed to go if the pain was going to remain at the excruciating level where it was.
A big part of our acceptance of life itself is the ability to live in the tension of what we know and what we don’t know. Somehow we must wrestle with the reality that we don’t have all the answers to some very important questions in life. But we do know enough to live life with strength and courage and George showed us that. George found peace in God even in the most difficult moments of life and death.
This is where faith comes in. We don’t have to know it all if we know the One who does. We don’t have to know what tomorrow holds if we know who holds tomorrow. We can live with unanswered questions if we have faith that God knows best, He is looking out for our best interests and He loves us. George had faith—no, he didn’t wear it on his sleeve or boast about it. In fact you could say, he had it, he lost it and he chose it again when it mattered most.
Today we are going to tell some stories about his life. We will probably laugh. We will probably shed a tear, maybe many. But while we are living in this in between time of knowing and not knowing let’s choose to live with faith.
George’s favorite portion of scripture was Psalm 23. I had the privilege to read it to him when he was in the excruciating pain I referenced earlier and it gave him peace. I want to read it to you today and pray that it brings you the same peace it brought George. If you know this Psalm and you want to say it with me feel free:
A psalm of David.
TheLordis my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a]in the house of theLord