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Summary: Funeral sermon for Henry Allen, who had lingered in weakened condition for many months, and who had become distanced from everyone, particularly his family.

What you see is not always what you get. What your eyes

tell you is not always the whole truth. Sometimes there is

more going on than you can see.

Have you ever been tricked by an optical illusion? An optical

illusion is something that, when you first see it, you think you

know exactly what it is, but when you look again, you

discover it was something else. If someone holds up a big

red sign, six-sides, with the white letters SPOT in the middle

of it, you will immediately think it says, “Stop”. That’s what

you expected it to say; that’s what you think you saw.

Except that it said “Spot” instead of “Stop”. What your eyes

tell you is not always the whole truth. And sometimes there

is more going on than you can see.

I was reading just the other day about a young man I knew

years ago when he was a student at American University.

He is now a performance artist, who can, with deftness of

hand, make things appear where they are not supposed to

be and make other things disappear without a trace. He

recently helped produce a movie in which he made actor Will

Smith just suddenly appear in the middle of Times Square.

Nobody quite knows how he did that. What your eyes tell

you is not always the whole truth. There is more going on

than you can see.

There is more going on inside people than what you can see,

too. There is a whole lot more than first impressions. I told

the children of the church a story the other day about two

men who showed up at the door of the school, looking for

children. One of them was in raggedy clothes, in need of a

shave, looking like last week’s leftovers, so they called the

security guard to deal with him. The other was dressed in

the latest fashions, driving a sleek car, looking cool, and they

smiled at him. But after a while they found out that the first

man was somebody’s daddy, who looked the way he did

because he had worked all day and all night, and the second

man was a drug dealer looking to recruit kids! You cannot

always tell who a person is just by looking. There is more

going on than meets the eye. The Bible says it, “[Men] look

on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the

heart.”

Over these several months, as we visited Henry Allen’s

hospital bed and made our way to his nursing home room,

what we saw was not the whole story. What our eyes told us

was not the whole truth. There was more going on than we

could see. We thought we saw a man in decline; but we

were actually seeing a man in the making. Our eyes looked

at a man turning his face toward the wall, and we thought,

“He is depressed, he has given up, he is dying.” But I

suggest this morning that what was really happening was a

man was gathering his spirit, looking for new hope, and

finding the source of new life. More going on than we could

see.

And when we shrunk back from the array of tubes, lines,

cords, and hoses that Henry had to endure, we did not see

all of that as a gift from God. We did not understand that

God was transfusing Henry with new life, transfusing him not

with saline solution or glucose or blood plasma, but with the

redeeming blood of Christ. Something was going on, far

more than we could see at the time.

From our Scripture, I could imagine the apostle Paul walking

in to Henry’s hospital room, and seeing more than what we

saw. I can imagine Paul saying to Henry:

Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is

being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is

preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.

What did we think we saw? An “outer nature wasting away”.

But what was really going on? An “inner nature being

renewed day by day.” The apostle was able to see beyond

what ordinary eyes see. He saw that all this suffering was

preparation for an “eternal weight of glory”, an inner nature

being renewed.

There is one basic thing that every one of us wants to do

before we die, and that is to reconcile. To settle accounts.

To say what has not been said and to finish what has not

been finished. We want to die in peace, and we cannot do

that unless we are reconciled. I believe that God in Jesus

Christ gave Henry Allen time enough in which to reconcile; I

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