My friend Cricket died a couple of weeks ago.
Cricket was a homeless man who struggled with alcoholism. He had recently undergone heart surgery but wasn’t taking care of himself.
Still, these realities didn’t prepare the neighborhood for his death.
For many of our homeless friends, Cricket’s death hit a little too close to home. His life mirrored their own, and I think they saw how suddenly it could all be over.
I was given the honor of performing Cricket’s eulogy.
At the funeral, several homeless men wept for their lost friend. Some even leaned into the casket to give Cricket a hug, or a kiss on the forehead.
It was touching.
I stood up and talked about Cricket. I had only known him for about a year, but had noticed a sweet and gentle spirit in him. He had confessed Jesus as his Savior a month before his death. With this in mind, I invited everyone to follow Cricket’s lead and place their faith in Jesus.
There were a lot of tears and amens from the small group of visitors.
Then Cricket’s cousin asked if she could say a few words.
She stood up and gave a powerful testimony, describing how Jesus delivered her from an addiction to meth and brought her into a new life.
She didn’t encourage her listeners to believe in Jesus, she warned them. She said, “Trust me, unless you turn from your lifestyle and believe, you will end up in the same place.” She pointed firmly at Cricket’s dead body.
After her speech I returned to the podium.
“Hmm,” I said. “Let’s pray.”
And that was that.
I’m always blown away by the ways God has equipped us to minister to each other.
I went to bible college, learned how to preach, and can help someone understand the scriptures pretty well.
But if I had yelled at that little group of funeral goers and told them to repent, they would have been confused, or angry.
Because what do I know?
I’ve seen drug and alcohol addiction destroy others, for sure.
But I haven’t lived it.
I don’t know the pain of detox.
I’ve never wanted a drink so bad that I would lie to strangers for spare change.
But Cricket’s cousin had left the darkness of addiction and stepped into the light. And according to her testimony, she only overcame her addiction because she got to know Jesus.
So I could have preached an expository sermon at Cricket’s funeral, detailing the theological road to salvation and leading repenters in the Sinner’s Prayer. Certainly there’s a time for that.
But at the end of the day, the best I could offer was to stand up and affirm the truth of a salvation experience, pointing to Cricket’s cousin to say, “Yeah, what she said.”