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
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
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
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