I thought I’d provide a little recap of this past weekend to give testimony to God’s goodness and grace.
I flew to Florida on Friday afternoon. I was “mistakenly” assigned to someone else’s seat, which resulted in my being bumped up to the “stretch seating” area of the plane (a welcome upgrade for anyone, but especially for those of us with long legs– and I got to enjoy the same on the return trip). Also part of the upgrade was a divine appointment to get to know Shannon. We had a meaningful discussion about salvation, and the gospel in general. I had been reading Milton Vincent’s “Gospel Primer” for a short portion of the flight, and this prepped my heart to offer balm and hope to this young single mom.
My brother Dave and my niece both were flying into the same airport, the same evening. God orchestrated the flights so that we all arrived within 30 minutes of one another. The same was true of our departing flights on Monday. A simple convenience, but a blessing nonetheless. We stayed up until about 2 am visiting, sharing memories, recounting Mom’s home going and seeing God’s loving fingerprints on all that had transpired. We wondered why God had allowed Mom to linger when it seemed so much better for her to be Home…but God had not finished with everything else He had planned as a part of this time in Mom’s life. Her death provided opportunities to offer life to onlookers…doctors, nurses, care givers, relatives. My brother and his wife were faithful in sharing this hope with all who would listen. Mom left this earth, fittingly, on her 59th wedding anniversary. Into the arms of Jesus, and I’m sure Dad was standing close by to welcome her. As she took her last breath (while Judy was singing “Amazing Grace” to her), my brother and Judy both exclaimed, “Mom, now you can see!” Judy sang the doxology.
The next morning we arrived at the church to practice music before the service. Things went very smoothly, and I was blessed by the servant’s heart of the young gal who accompanied us. There had been an accident in their garage the day previous, and she had sustained a head injury which resulted in scores of staples, right along the part of her hair, yet, despite a headache, she was waiting for us, sweetly worked with us through each piece, and faithfully provided her talent as pianist for the entire service. God bless her.
The service was preceded by a PowerPoint presentation (much of which was from my parent’s 50th anniversary celebration), done by my oldest brother. Precious to look at all the beloved images.
I have been blessed by two such services in my life. The first was years ago at the funeral of Mrs. Bob Jones Sr. I got to sing in the choir, and we did the “Hallelujah Chorus”. It made a lasting impression on me as the first funeral I had attended where there was rejoicing. My Mom’s service was also inspirational. God gave me wonderful grace, and I sang “In the Garden” which was a favorite of hers. My sister in law (who sang to her often in the hospital) and niece did a beautiful rendition of “Beulah Land”. We had “Amazing Grace,” “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” and “Blessed Assurance” as congregational songs. My brothers gave testimony, both including their marvel at God’s goodness that He should allow her to trust Him in the twilight years of her life. What overwhelmed me was to think that both of my parents are in glory, and all of us sitting in a row there in that service had experienced that saving grace as well. Tom showed everyone a Christian Worker’s New Testament that had apparently been presented to Mom when she was only 11 years old. It was 72 years later that she personally embraced the scripture which was handwritten in the flyleaf:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Grace and mercy…”marvelous grace of our loving Lord,” as the hymn writer once wrote.
The pastor gave a sweet testimony also, commenting that if he had not known that Mom was only 5 years old in the Lord, he never would have guessed it. When he came in to pray with her during her second hospital visit, he said when he was finished, she took the initiative to pray for him also. Sweet. He said he’d never had that happen before, that someone whom he had visited would show care for him in their time of trial. God is so wonderful.
We spent the afternoon resting, after enjoying a lunch provided by the kindness of folks from the church there. We had an appointment with a gentleman to discuss Mom’s investments. All three of us contributed to offering a loving gospel witness to him. My heart was comforted that there was no debating or argument over “who gets what”…so grievous when that happens. We were already richly blessed in our hearts, without having anything material in our hands. We all embraced with joy and gratitude the earthly tokens of Mom’s care. I was able to pack up some small things that I knew would be cherished by my children. One was a pewter mug with my mom’s initials. I gave it to my son, and he loves it. He asked, “What does the ‘M’ stand for….’Mom’??” (My mother’s middle name was Mae. 🙂 )
I know I’m forgetting things. With the speed and intensity of this weekend, I feel as if I’ve been in a blender, and someone has just poured me out. The entire time was so poignantly a manifestation of “Amazing Grace”. A very fitting closure to the earthly chapter of Mom’s life. To God be the glory.