Celebrating a Monumental Life

Posted: October 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

Last year when my mom passed away, due to the Covid restrictions, we were unable to have a memorial service.  Yesterday, we were able to finally gather and celebrate her life.  For several reasons, it was an amazing day, but mostly because of who was able to attend.  First, it was nice to have my brother and three of my sisters there.  Of all the memories of my childhood, the ones that I most cherish are the times when us seven kids and my dad would gather around mom’s piano and sing some hymns and gospel songs. Michael, the oldest of the seven, passed away in 2013 and Robin, child #6, was unable to attend because her husband was not feeling well.  Even without their presence it moved me because during the service I was able to sing some hymns with my dad and four of my other siblings which stirred up those precious memories of my childhood.  Also in attendance were members of the Sunday school class that have become a part of mom and dad’s family.  Even though my mom passed away over fourteen months ago and people tend to forget the importance of things with the passage of time, most of the class was there; some of which spoke of their memories with Mom. I attended their class this morning and it really is a special group.   The last group of people that made the event something to remember was the pastors that were there, which included the senior pastor of the church. His being there reminded me of my dad’s and my own pastor’s servant leadership which calls them to love on the flock that the Lord has placed them over throughout the week, and not just on the couple of hours that we meet on Sunday. The pastor’s words during the eulogy impressed on me that my mom meant a lot to him also.  Suitable for the occasion, my dad read one of the poems that he had written to my mom over the years.  Before he read, he commented how Mom loved all of his poems and they were all her favorite, as he held three of the books of his poems to her that he had written.  The poem that dad read expressed not only his love for her and the his sorrow at her passing, but also in the grace of the Lord that brought them together and that would one day reunite them again.

I was asked to some Scripture readings and reflect on how they relate to the type of woman that my amazing mom was:

When thinking of Mom, there are some words and phrases that come to mind: kind and gentle, joyful worship and legacy of faith.

Proverbs 31:25-31 is a passage that speaks towards the type of woman Mom was:

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come,

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Anyone who has read Dad’s poetry, know how that perfectly reflects Dad’s feelings towards Mom)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Mom loved to sing and lead us as a family in worship, with her playing the piano.  She loved the Lord and singing about Him.

Psalm 100 says to:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Mom knew what joy was all about.  As the life around us would go through the ups and downs that life brings; a life that is not always full of happiness but always full of joy.  Mom knew that there was always a time to rejoice, because joy is based on who we are in Christ and while the happenstance of life will fluctuate, who we are in Christ will forever be the same.  It is out of that wonderful truth, that we, as a family, could gather around Mom’s piano, and she would lead us in joyfully serving the Lord and coming into his presence with singing!

The psalm goes on to say:

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

The greatest thing that any parent can do for their child is teach them to know that there is a God and how to get to know Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Mom was a good steward of the charge that a parent has to teach a child the way they should go, so that when they grow old, they will not depart from it.  In Paul’s last letter to Timothy, there is one passage that makes me think of Mom every time I read it: 

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Mom had a sincere faith. She exuded the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Of these, the spiritual trait of gentleness is the one that I think of most about Mom. My wife and son wanted to be here, but their flight was cancelled.  This morning she texted me and said: “Wish we could be there for the memories, my one-word description of your mom is gentle.  I never saw her angry and I will always picture that smile of hers.”  Mom was gentle.  As a result, she fostered an environment in our home which made her simple and sincere faith in Christ a model which Kim and I have strived to pass on to Connor.  And that is the greatest legacy that any parent can strive for.  One which will lead their child into not only trusting in the work of Christ for their salvation, but to also trust in Him to lead them through the ups and downs of life. Resting in the truth that we are truly the sheep of His pasture, and the Good Shepherd that He is will never leave us or forsake us.

Psalm 100 ends with a wonderful call to worship which is based on who we know the Lord to be:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

And his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good;

His steadfast love endures forever,

And his faithfulness to all generations.

As followers of Christ, through the influence of the Holy Spirit and the reading and application of His Word, we are being molded into the likeness of Christ.  Most mornings, after she got us kids and Dad fed and us kids off to school, you would find Mom doing her morning devotion.  The last verse of Psalm 100 speaks about the goodness of the Lord, his steadfast love and his faithfulness. As Christ’s light was shining through her, all of these traits were at the core of who Mom was.  Because of her steadfast love, when one of us kids messed up, we knew that Mom was still going to love us.  As the Lord is always faithful, Mom and Dad were faithful to each other for their 69 years of marriage.  Together they taught us kids that getting through the storms of life was accomplished by anchoring ourselves to the Lord who will never leave us; and when you’re married the storms draw you closer to each other, not apart, as you go through life together.

It is because of the faithfulness of the Lord that when Mom passed last year that her passing was easier to take.  While our minds being flooded with memories of her makes us sad, knowing that she is with Jesus and that one day we will join her at our Master’s feet makes it easier.  Because no matter how long we might live in this life, the life that comes is eternal.  An eternity of creating new memories in joining her in worshiping our savior in heaven; what a day that will be.

As Christians, we are reminded of not only how temporary life is, but death as well.  Death is temporary.  There is a story of Donald Barnhouse which captures the wonderful truth hits home to why we are gathered here today.  Barnhouse was a Presbyterian pastor who lost his wife when his daughter was still a child.  Although he was a gifted theologian, he was finding it hard to help his daughter, and himself, deal with the grief of losing her mom.  As he was talking to them, a big moving truck passed them, and as the shadow of it moved over them, he had an idea.  He asked his daughter; would you rather be hit by the truck or the shadow the truck?  She responded, “the shadow of the truck.”  And he said, that’s right, because the shadow can’t hurt you.”  That’s when he said: “She’s actually alive ⎯ more alive than we are. And that’s because two thousand years ago, the real truck of death hit Jesus. And because death crushed Jesus, and we believe in him, now the only thing that can come over us is the shadow of death, and the shadow of death is but my entrance into glory.”

Because Christ was hit by death, Mom was only hit by the shadow of death.  That wonderful truth gives us all cause to go before the Lord with singing!