The world lost two great men this week. One was a household name, especially to baseball fans. The other, known mostly locally to his family, his community, his church. Both were laid to rest at 10 o’clock today in Illinois.
Both battled illnesses that eventually won the fight for their bodies. Both lived long lives.
One was a hero to his sport, a man who never complained about the illnesses or diseases that wracked his body, even when they made playing the sport difficult. And to the children who benefited from his commitment to raising money for juvenile diabetes.
The other was a hero to his family, a pillar of faith, a joy, a strength, a compassionate, humble servant.
One made a name for himself in the world, whether he wanted it that way or not. The other made a name for himself in heaven.
I am unqualified to speak much about either man, having never met the first in person and not being family or close friend to the other. Perhaps others more qualified can add their memories to this post.
What I do know is that both deaths leave a big hole in their circles of influence. Listening to Cubs’ broadcasts won’t be the same. Baseball won’t be the same. The Cubs won’t be the same. That’s a hole I don’t know how will be filled.
For the second man, his family won’t be the same, his church, his community, either, but that hole I know will be filled by their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This man left a legacy of faith to his children, his grandchildren, to others who had the privilege to know him.
Two grieving families, two worlds, two funerals at the same time on the same day. One honored, celebrated and remembered on national TV; one honored and celebrated locally. Both men may have fussed over the fuss of their respective remembrances. Jesus, and the hope of salvation, was preached through both of their lives.
May that legacy continue beyond their lives, beyond the celebration of today.
I couldn’t ignore the timing of these two funerals, being reminded that the celebration, remembrance and honor we receive on this earth is not the important thing. It’s the being with Jesus in heaven part that counts. It’s what we store up for the eternal world. Most of us won’t have a nationally televised funeral or the kind of influence that comes with fame and notoriety. But we all have a chance to affect eternity, starting with ourselves.
Death always reminds me of that — to take account of how I’m living my life, where my treasure is, what I’m living for, working for, valuing. What’s really important.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” — 2 Corinthians 4:18