Would you rather…?

In my work helping schools connecting students to adult mentors, I’m always on the lookout for good ways to help get both sides talking. One way to get conversation going is by asking good questions. One such type of question starts with, “Would you rather…?”

Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button for your life?
Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love, or rich and work at a job you hate?

And this one: Would you rather have no one come to your wedding, or your funeral?

Once, I asked this question of some high schoolers, and their answers were largely along the lines of: “My wedding. Who cares about my funeral? I’ll be dead.”

I get it; I see where they’re coming from. But my answer would be the opposite. I’d rather have nobody at my wedding. While it was nice to have family and friends there, when I got married, I really only needed 2 other people: the minister, and, of course, my bride.

(Ironically enough, we’re now living in a time where weddings – and funerals – may have to look something like this for awhile. I recently did a funeral where there were 6 people present – all immediate family. My nephew is scheduled to get married next month. Sadly, he and his fiancée may not have a choice how they answer this “Would you rather?” question.)

But in normal times, if no one came to my funeral, what would that say about my life? If the only people at my funeral were the minister and my family – in other words, those who have to be there – what kind of impact would I have had? If the church is empty at my funeral, there’s a good chance it’s because I lived an empty – even selfish – life.

The writer James Davison Hunter tells of a woman who worked as a grocery store checkout clerk. Not a very glamorous position, certainly, but she recognized that these few feet of space were her “sphere of influence.” So, she chose to love – right there. Everyday she greeted customers with warmth, remembering their names and asking about their families. She would end their brief time together by saying that she would pray for their families.

As a result, her line would back up – because so many people wanted to get in her lane. People were willing to wait in line — when’s the last time you heard of that happening? — because she genuinely encouraged them.

And when she died, years after she had retired, the church was packed for her funeral visitation — as people came to share how she had blessed them in her checkout lane.

I bet I know how she would have answered the question, “Would you rather people come to your wedding or your funeral?” Through her job — one very few would want, and most would just “get through” — she chose to be a blessing.

So, what about you: Would you rather have an expensive, elaborate, picture-perfect wedding (and life)  — or would you rather live your life in such a way that people pack your funeral as a testimony to a life well-lived?

What’s your story?

Earlier today, I sat down with a couple to talk about their upcoming wedding. Well, two of us were in my office; the other was almost 2000 miles away in Montana. But thanks to the wonders of skype, the three of us were able to be in the same room. When I meet for the first time with a couple who are planning their wedding, the first thing I like to do is hear their story.

With this couple, their story goes something like this: she grew up in church; he grew up in another religious tradition. He likes the outdoors; she does, too. Met at a national park. Got to know each other long distance through the wonders of modern long distance communication (unlike the olden days when I was dating, in the 1990s, and had to write letters). Kept in contact. He made a decision for Christ. They visited some more. Decided to get married. She found a job 2000 miles from where she grew up. Wedding planned and coming soon. Both of them grew up with a different story, but after a chance encounter in beautiful (and remote) Montana, their stories now will intersect — til death do they part.

Every one has a story. And every one has a different story. That is one of the things that makes being human so fascinating. Every one you meet has a story — 0ne worth hearing. For that matter, YOU have a story — one worth telling, and understanding. whats your story

One of the (many) reasons I love the Church is because it is full of people, who bring all of their stories together. Church is the place where our stories are celebrated, shared, and transformed by the grace of Jesus. We are all wonderfully and delightfully different — and it is in the midst of this difference that God is present, drawing us to Him and to each other. Diversity isn’t just a good idea — it’s God’s idea (see here, and here, and here).

Sunday at Fern Creek Christian, we got to celebrate the stories of 21 people (and several of their children), as they made decisions for Christ and his Church. It was truly a day to celebrate, for each person who came, said: Today, I bring me (and my story) to this family, this place. This Jesus. And we threw our opens wide to them.

There was Angela, and her step-daughter Kaitlyn, who came together — but each was saying, I need to trust Jesus.

There was Linda, who has been coming to church for a while with her sister. They both came forward Sunday, Linda’s sister there every step of the way for encouragement — and both celebrated Linda’s special day.

There was Grace, whose journey has taken her from Africa, to Fern Creek, to making a decision for baptism.

And there is Shawn, who came up after the service was over, to say: I’m ready. I want to be baptized. And so, this Sunday, he will step out of his wheelchair, and into the waters of death, burial, and resurrection.

And that’s just a few of the stories. Each one is unique. Each one is valuable. And each one is now a part of the work God is doing at Fern Creek.

I believe that God loves a good story; and God loves writing a great story, in the life of every person who invites Him to do just that.

So, what’s your story? And what is God doing with the one and only life you’ve got?