Delivered at my Mom's funeral in January 2009.
Monday night we gathered around Mom’s bed, praying for mercy and singing to her. Near the end, a verse of scripture came to my mind: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15) What a strange thing this might seem, but to see the outpouring of love for Miz Opal from family, church family and the beautiful staff at Crestpark is to be reminded of the love of God. As much as we love Mom and clung to her, how much more does our Heavenly Father, the Source of all love and goodness, love her and long to have this child of his with him?
God is merciful and we prayed to Him for mercy because it hurt to see her cling so tenaciously to life. It became an object of wonderment to us all: how can this be, how can this tiny, frail little woman go toe to toe with death and hold him at bay? The thought occurs, "Could our merciful God have been granting this faithful servant‘s one last desire : to linger with her family a while longer, to bask in our love, to respond to it and try to make us understand in some small way: the movement of her eyes or a teardrop perhaps, to let US know that she loved us and maybe to delay for a bit the heartache of her leaving?
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. One day, He will appear with a shout and the sound of the trumpet and all his saints will be caught up to meet him in the air. But until then, one by one He’ll call us home to be with Him. And until then He will pour out His wonderful love on us and through us to one another and through us it may be, may it be, that that love will draw some unsaved soul to him.
In Luke 10:2, Jesus reminds us that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.
Miz Opal labored in the fields of harvest all her life. The first person she led to the LORD? Our Dad. She taught him to read by reading the Bible and talking about the things they read there. You see, my mom was a teacher. Forty years of service here at Lexa Baptist alone testify to that. My earliest church memory consists of my pestering her to get into her 8-12 year olds class when I was only seven.
The Bible says "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Mom believed this and applied this rule not only to her own children but several generations of this community’s children. They were cared for under her roof, fed at her table, and ran and played in her back yard.
God’s word contains many promises but my favorite is the one contained in Isaiah 55:12 and I was reminded of it as I witnessed joy in the midst of sorrow and celebration in the midst of mourning this past Monday evening "For you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
What about us though? We’ve cried, we’ve rejoiced, we’ve reminisced, we’ve comforted each other and we‘ve come here to pay tribute to Miz Opal.
What now? Jesus said "Lift up your eyes, the fields are white with the harvest." One of the harvesters has finished her work. What about those of us left standing? A song that I love has these words:
"And the ones left standing have to cry all the tears
and replay all the memories, good and bad, through the years.
And we shoulder the weight of the work left to be done.
And the ones left standing...