This is the message that Papa shared at Grandma's memorial service two weeks ago. ~Anna
Thank you all so much for being here. Your presence is a testimony of your love for her and we are all so grateful for the love and support that has been shown to us this week and that is evidenced by this gathering of Mom’s family and friends. I know that she has touched your lives in many ways. Regardless of how you came to know her, whether as a family member, acquaintance, co-worker, neighbor, service provider, or business associate, she has become your friend. We can all testify to her faithfulness, loyalty, patience, and desire to serve others.
We are here today to remember my mom, Sherry, and to honor God as we affirm his sovereignty and grace.
As I consider the timing of Mom’s death, it seems that it was not on anyone’s schedule. It was sudden and unexpected. From the first indication of any problem until we received the final call from the hospital was only a few hours. Yet, I can see God’s control in all of the details. Karen was speaking to Mom on the phone only a few minutes before she collapsed. A close family friend was available to go check on her and call the paramedics immediately. All of my children and grandchildren were together at our house in Houston when we received the first call from Karen, so we were able to support one another in our grief as we heard the news. We had just celebrated Samuel’s birthday with cake. Here is a quote from Ray, my son-in-law, written last Monday:
Yesterday, our little Samuel, who has brought so much joy into our lives, turned two. Somewhere between late last night and early this morning, Katie's paternal grandmother passed away unexpectedly. Today... we received a birthday card in the mail from her to Samuel. She was an amazing woman and lived such a beautiful life full of grace, meaning, and service. She is a hero to me.
This life is a fleeting vapor -- use today wisely, for we know not what tomorrow holds. Invest in eternity.
Ray’s final comment is so important to remember. Our mortal lives are indeed fleeting and we must invest in eternity.
My wife, Judith, is following a daily Bible reading plan and part of what she was scheduled to read on Monday were the following verses from Ecclesiastes 8:
6 For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him. 7 For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? 8 No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death.
This is such a reminder that God is in control.
Our family is reading in 2 Corinthians and in chapter 1, we find the following:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
So, not only is He in control, but he comforts us, and equips us to comfort others.
From my vantage point at Mom’s dining room table, I can see the birds continue to gather at the feeder that she has filled, I see the flowers she has tended, and I consider that even though she is no longer with us, she has affected our lives and she will be remembered in our hearts.
But, it also causes me to reflect that this mortal life is relatively short as we consider eternity. Even as Mom’s body no longer has breath in it, the bird seed will be depleted, the flowers will fade and only what is eternal will last. We each need to consider the truth that is revealed to us in God’s Word that only his grace can provide any lasting, eternal hope.
In Romans 2, we read the following: “Do you presume on the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” God’s call to repentance means a turning away from sin and living a life in obedience to him.
One of my family’s favorite hymns is “Not What My Hands Have Done”, by Horatius Bonar. I would like to close by reading the words to this hymn which sum up so well our inability to gain peace with God apart from what He has done and the hope that we can have only in him.
1. Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers, and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.
2. Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, and set my spirit free!
3. Thy grace alone, O God, to me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine, no other blood will do;
No strength save that which is divine, can bear me safely through.
4. I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.
5. I praise the God of grace, I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, my God, my joy, my light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives!