From Washington State:
Dear Mr. Alden, I attended the funeral for Richard Bray, both the gravesite service and the church service over which you presided. I was particularly caught up in your description of Psalm 1 and want to pass it along. Could you send me a copy? Also, you indicated you would send me a copy of the closing poem. Perhaps it slipped your mind.
Thanks Washington, I don’t have a copy of the sermon but Psalm 1 is such a wonderful message. I can give you a brief gist of what I said about the actual Psalm itself. First, however, I should remind our readers that Richard Bray was a tremendous servant of the Lord, so knowledgeable, and contributed so much through his documentaries and lectures. We have been so fortunate to have had so many like him selflessly standing tall over the years. I often think of Jim Read, our late president, and how he followed the same path as Richard.
Let’s first look at the six verses of the Psalm.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the ways of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Probably in reading these verses, the entire message is crystal clear. Nevertheless, what it does is to introduce the two ways of life. The first is the righteous way where we are urged to seek happiness by following God’s Law and to meditate on God’s teaching. And if we do, ultimate success is certain.
The other choice the Psalmist writes of is the wicked way. Where we can be swept away like wind! Or merely drift to ultimate destruction.
We have these two choices before us and at first glance, it seems to be a no-brainer. Yet, many choose the second path believing it is way to squeeze the most out of life. But, as the Scriptures say, if we live in the flesh, then that is the fruit of our labour.
Yet, a smaller number do opt for the righteous way, like Richard Bray or Jim Read did. They knew full well that living with Christ means that to die is really to gain. I don’t know, maybe we have to age a bit to really understand this.
Washington, apart from this, I believe one thing is certain and this is that the measurement of a person’s life is not what is taken but what is given. It’s easy to reflect upon the lives of a Richard Bray or a Jim Read and see their lives of service. They were among those unique ones to whom Christ was referring when He said “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”
I suppose that it is at times when we say goodbye to staunch followers of Christ that we might search our own lives and ask ourselves, “Are we employing the gifts God gave us in the way He would want us to.” You know, we are living in very strange times and it is not easy to follow always the righteous life. And it is challenging in these days of apostasy to join the greatest army in the world and march under that banner which proudly states “Onward Christian Soldiers”. Yet, all the signs and all the prophecies point to an early return of the Lord Jesus Christ and hopefully it can be said of us when we must close our own lives that “We fought a good fight, we finished our course and we kept the faith.”
A number of months ago, I visited my hometown and visited the resting place of my mother and father. Like so many of your loved ones that closed their lives after a life in Christ, they earned their peaceful sleep in the gravesite, perhaps not totally aware that their next waking moment would be in the blessed Resurrection. It is about this sleep in the grave that I wrote “Waiting at the Station.”