I thought my mother would be grieving my stepfather’s death—she had been married to him for almost 40 years, but instead of grief, there was relief.
My mother had been through so much— for a year, my stepfather was bedridden and my mother had to feed and change him. She had no peace— even when she wanted to go downstairs for a break, he would call for her and she would stay with him in the room.
When my mother discovered he had died, she called my brother and he wired money for her to cremate him. About four hours later, she was presented with a ceramic vase with his ashes in it. There was no funeral and no one cried for him.
I then thought about my father-in-law’s funeral. All of us were mourning his death—all of us were deeply saddened because we would miss him. The church was filled with people and they talked about all the wonderful things my father-in-law did.
There’s a stark difference between the way my stepfather and my father-in-law were remembered in death, and I think these differences reflected who they were and how they lived their lives.
My stepfather was a pedophile and a gambling addict. He molested not only my sister and me, but also my cousins and my brother’s niece on his wife’s side (these were the ones that I know about). He had also been arrested for picking up prostitutes.
My father-in-law was a godly man. He was married to my mother-in-law for almost 50 years prior to his death. He was ill for 20 years yet he continued to do ministry. He was like a father to me and he loved my children very much.
My stepfather did not know the LORD, but my father-in-law did. My stepfather did not worship God, but my father-in-law worshiped Him constantly. My stepfather denied Christ, but my father-in-law embraced Christ and told others about Him.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make… You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life…” (NLT).
My stepfather did not choose life, but my father-in-law did, and now the memory of my father-in-law continues while my stepfather has been quickly forgotten.