Today, Chad and I had the opportunity to attend a funeral. I say ‘opportunity’ because it was the celebration of a life lived for Christ. And despite the tragic accident that took this man’s life, God is receiving Glory. Bryan Morgan was killed in a bike accident on the 4th of July. If you live in the Atlanta area, then you probably heard about it on the news. Bryan was the father of our dear friend Matt Morgan, and although I’ve only met him very briefly surrounding events for Reed, his grandson, after today, I feel like I know him well, and I have learned many things from his life.
Matt and Danielle are in our small group- and they’re part of our family. This isn’t the first tragedy we’ve walked through with the Morgans, and it’s not the first death of a parent we’ve experienced within our small group either- but I’ve got to say, it doesn’t get any easier, despite our “experience”. I spent the first half of the week in shock, just aching for my friends. I would talk to Danielle each morning, and without fail, weep for their loss, weep over their pain, and pray. I’ve prayed more this week than I have in a long time– and I know my Savior a little better because of that. By the latter half of the week, I spent my time trying to figure out how we could help, how I could serve them, serve Danielle, and love them through the pain. Chad and I have talked a lot about this week- just processing it all, hurting for Matt, trying to imagine what he’s going through- but today, my eyes were opened to a whole new side of it all.
Bryan’s memorial service was 3 hours- and I mean 3 very short hours. 3 of his closest friends shared about Bryan’s life, 4 of his 5 kids spoke about his love for them, and a Pastor reminded everyone of the Truth found in God’s word. Time flew, as story after story was told about how this man loved God and loved others. Songs of praise were sung to our God who has a plan– the same God who is in control– the same one who offers comfort– and most importantly, the same God who sacrificed his only Son on our behalf so that we may spend eternity in heaven with Him. And of course, many more tears were shed– so much so that I had a crying headache by the time it was over. I cried watching Matt grieve, I cried watching Danielle hug on her hurting husband, I cried hearing about the way Bryan conducted his life, sad that he wasn’t here anymore, I cried for his young grandchildren who will only remember stories about him- but mostly, I wept for the lessons learned from this man that I didn’t even really know. His life was still changing lives- even though he isn’t on this earth anymore!
Since that service this morning, Chad and I have talked about who we would want to speak at our own funerals, we have talked about what matters, we have talked about what it means to be intentional, what it looks like to focus on people, and how Jesus HAS GOT to be at the center of everything that we are. I’ve got to tell you too, that after this week, the things that “mattered” last Sunday, aren’t the same things the “matter” now. Life is short- regardless of how great of a person you are, regardless of how needed you are by your family, regardless of how healthy and happy you are- and so all that matters is love- loving God and loving others. (Matthew 22:36-38)
I thank God for Bryan’s life, for the way he loved his wife and taught Matt to love his wife– I get to see my friend loved well, but also, as Chad and Matt do life together, Chad is growing as a result of Bryan too, also for the way he loved his kids- Chad and I can’t stop talking about all the things we can take away from hearing them speak today, things we can start right now and things for later, but mostly, I thank God for saving Bryan, for making him a child of God, who ran the race and fought the fight, and used his life to grow the Kingdom.
Although I am sad that Bryan is no longer here, although I hurt over the gaping hole in my friends life, although this is just the beginning of life without Bryan for so many loved ones, I am honored that I got to be a part of his celebration service today.
11 Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.