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I’ve had a lifelong desire to live to be 100. For some reason, I have always felt a pull to be a centenarian. Admittedly, only God knows our ordained days. But if I could pick a target age, I’d shoot for the first of the triple digits.
So when I started writing a poem for my funeral, it wasn’t because I was hoping it would be soon. Quite the contrary! But, oddly, I do think about that event at times and wonder what I would want said or read.
It was in one of those moments that this poem was birthed. Little by little I would add a phrase, note a theme, or write a stanza. Slow and steady. Usually more slow than steady. Sometimes really slow.
But this week it all came together. It’s funny how clarity usually comes when you’re face-to-face with the undeniable reality of mortality. Watching my wife’s 92 year-old dad say good bye was exactly that—a glimpse into everyone’s “appointment” (Heb. 9:27).
Being with my dying father-in-law who, as of this date (5/13/2020), is in his final days, has been a beautifully heart-wrenching, soul-grabbing, value-focusing, priority-cementing set of days. It’s out of this emotionally stirring—and currently on-going— experience of watching a godly man be engulfed by the grasp of Jesus that this poem took final shape.
Maybe it’s not just for my funeral after all.
Weep Not For Me
Weep not for me, weep for yourselves
You who still linger here;
I’m finally home, not merely near,
Why mourn for me with tears?
You pilgrims traveling yet on earth,
For you, your tears are shed;
For I no longer wait or wish,
Or battle doubt and fear.
It’s true—my eyes were growing dim,
My lungs were gasping deep;
My back was bent, my heart was weak,
At last, I went to sleep.
But death was not arresting me,
Nor was it grimly reaping.
True life was overtaking me!
Why sit you there still weeping?
You now behold my former shell,
My tent that faded fast;
But my mere mortal, passing days
gave way to what will last.
Ah, “last”—that’s where eternity
Rolls on like endless waves;
God’s glory as the centerpiece,
Our tongues in ceaseless praise.
So mourn not for my journey there,
It’s where I long to be.
His presence is my fullest joy,
So please, don’t weep for me.
Instead, weep for the exiles here,
The strangers plodding ‘long.
The ones enduring, by God’s grace,
Sin’s presence, evil’s wrong.
It’s they who need your mourning cries,
Your sorrow and your prayers.
Not me, for I’m inheriting
God’s riches as an heir.
I ran my race, I fought my fight,
My ordained days are done.
Now God has borne me to his home,
Through Christ, the Risen One.
That’s why I urge you not to weep
for me, I’m not in need.
But rather weep for you and yours,
Who have yet to be freed
From all you know as toil and strain,
And from its final blow;
You’re body-bound until the day
it wears a dusty glow.
But death, with all its weakened wails,
And empty, hollow sting,
Could not shut tight the grave that held
my Savior, Jesus—King!
His resurrection led the way,
believers follow suit:
Because he rose, then so will I,
Because he lives, I, too!
Thus weep for you, weep not for me,
I’m more alive than ever!
I’ll see you, saints, when Christ returns,
And then we’ll be together.
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