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In lieu of flowers . . . .

I saw those words again today. At the end of an obituary. To suggest a charity or a gesture that would have had significance to the deceased. Rather than having the person desiring to express respect or sympathy spend money on flowers.

I don't mean to be morbid. I really don't. But I have another birthday looming in a few weeks. It's not "one of the big numbers," but any year past 70 could be considered a big number. My momma died at 55. Steve's dad died at 73. I've already outlived both of them. It's just natural, I suppose, to have moments of facing one's mortality, especially when confronted with candles on a birthday cake. I have the settled assurance that I will be in heaven when I die, but what about those I'll be leaving behind? Will they remember how much I loved them? Will they feel a void where hugs, words of encouragement, sweet treats, laughter-filled times, and gifts used to be?

Last Sunday's sermon about David and Mephibosheth started my thinking along these lines. You can find the story in 2 Samuel chapter 9. At the time, David was the king of Israel, but he was thinking about his best friend Jonathan, son of Israel's first king, Saul. Even though Saul did everything in his power to make David's life miserable, David refused to harm him, even when he had numerous opportunities and reasons to do so. One reason was his deep love for Jonathan, but the overriding one was his regard for the person God had anointed. Read about one incident in 1Samuel chapter 24 and specifically verse 6 -- "So he (David) said to his men, 'Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord (Saul), the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed.'"

By the time, 2 Samuel chapter 9 rolls around, both Saul and Jonathan have died, and David is on the throne. He wanted to do whatever he could for any of Saul's children or grandchildren as a way to honor Jonathan. He found out that Jonathan had a son living in Lo-debar who was crippled in both of his feet. In those days, disabled people had no importance in the culture, but David insisted that Mephibosheth be brought to him so that he could eat at his table for the rest of his life. Imagine going from obscurity and helplessness to having a seat at the king's table for every meal.

All of this brought the faces of my grandchildren and great-grandson to my mind. Our 16th grandchild is due in August. The number of great-grandchildren I could potentially have in the future is mind-boggling! Right now, all of them are physically and mentally healthy, a fact we praise God for every single day. By the time I die or in the years after, however, there could very well be a number of needs in the group. Physical needs. Emotional needs. Spiritual needs. I am quite sure that at any given time one or all of them would benefit from an act of kindness.

Not the over-the-top type of kindness David extended to Mephibosheth, you understand, but an encouraging gesture, nevertheless.

So, that's what I want to request at the end of my obituary.

In lieu of flowers, please do an act of kindness to one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Be a David to my Mephibosheths. And let me say thank you right now while I still can.

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