I walked into my closet, looking for something black to wear. The occasion wasn’t a fancy black-tie dinner, or an extravagant evening out on the town with my husband. Instead, I was attending the funeral of a man from our church family in a couple of hours. After a few minutes of unsuccessful debating while surveying my lack of proper options, I remembered my black dress. Then I realized that the last time I wore this sleeveless dress was about 2.5 years ago, when I went to the funeral of my former beloved pastor, Ken Sortedahl, in Wisconsin.

Now, as fate would have it, this dress serves a sole purpose: to be worn when honoring the life and death of another. Whenever I look at it, it will always remind me of those ceremonial days: of an immensely heavy heart with often uncontrollable tears, of laughter at shared funny memories, of family and friends gathered together with the common thread of a relationship, but also of an assured joy of knowing that those who died were believers and followers of Jesus Christ, therefore their heavenly home is certain, and a future reunion is near.

Memories, no matter how old, can be triggered by smells, places, a time, a date, or anything else that ties us to that moment that impacted our life. Those memories can range from the heights of joy to the depths of pain. Yet, as we recall that particular moment, or person, it is an opportunity for reflection.

This little black dress will do that for me. The next time I see it hanging in my closet, I will think of Pastor Ken and his love for wayward children, including taking me in as a student at Peniel. I will think of the young man today, and his family of only one year, but also his passion for being generous and kind to all he came in contact with, even strangers on the street, which was shared by many who spoke at today’s funeral.

God Himself has given us a reminder that He will never again flood the whole earth:
“God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud…”
Genesis 9:12-16

No matter what thing or day it is in your life that serves as a reminder – positive or negative – about a moment in your past, let it be used for good. Use that reminder to face another challenge, to grow deeper in your walk with Jesus, or to love on someone that you haven’t lately, or to pray for a particular person that doesn’t know Jesus, because one day they too will have to face a funeral, perhaps even their own.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Revelation 14:13

Friend, I write these blogs to encourage you in your walk with Jesus. If you do NOT know Him, I earnestly say this: Don’t wait another moment to talk to Him, because your future is not guaranteed, except that one day we all will face our Maker. What will He say to you? “I never knew you”, or “Well done my faithful servant”? Maybe I will be attending your funeral many years from now, in my black dress, and will smile with joy through tears because I KNOW you served Jesus and loved others.

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
Hebrews 9:27

Food for thought: “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson

Fun facts: Historians of fashion accredit the origins of the little black dress to the 1920s designs of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou. The designers intended the little black dress to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, and of a neutral color.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Black Dress