It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2
On the anniversary of Matthew's delivery date, the older boys and I attended a funeral service for a woman who died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. We did not know her personally, but the boys knew her daughter through choir. And because music is such a huge part of their family, they asked if the Advanced Choir would sing at her service. Micah and Luke, and 30 other choir members, stood in the front of the church in their tuxedos and dresses, lifting their voices to the Lord as they honored the life of this beloved woman, and praised Him for the joy that comes with entering the gates of heaven.
I do not remember the first song at all, but boy do I remember the second! It seemed out of place at first due to it's upbeat and joyful tempo, but the words drew our thoughts immediately toward heaven, reminding us that it IS a better place - it is a joy to be in the presence of the Lord - and this earth pales in comparison with its sorrows and its cares. It was a perfect song ... because even though those who loved her want her with them still, it is GOOD NEWS that she is with her Savior!
I got a crown up in'a that Kingdom
Ain'ta that'a good news
I got a crown up in'a that Kingdom
Ain'ta that'a good news
I'm gonna lay down this world
Gonna shoulder up my cross
Gonna take it home to my Jesus Ain'ta that'a good news!
(If you want to hear the joy that exudes from this song of praise - listen here: Ain'-a That Good News!)
I have started a habit of taking notes at memorial services. There are so many tender moments, sweet phrases, thoughtful looks, beautiful tributes, incredible legacies, fitting Scriptures ... and with the emotion that surrounds the service it is easy to forget all that happened. Even as a complete stranger to this woman Susan, I left her service feeling like I was her friend. And it was because of the things that were said - the photo collage - the testimonies of her life and walk with the Lord ... I want to remember them - and I want to "lay it to heart" as Ecclesiastes says. Watching another person's entire life flash before your eyes in pictures and words is quite humbling - and challenging. What can I learn from her life? What do I need to look at in my own?
These are the notes I took throughout the service. They are not in any particular order - just what struck me as I sat in the back, observing everyone, and everything.
~ Flowers filled the stage .. in honor of Susan, but signifying the taste and personality of each of the givers.
~ A cross made out of white flowers with scarlet roses across it like a sash sat in the center of the stage. Perfect place. Gorgeous. Powerful statement. A reminder that it is ALL ABOUT HEAVEN!
~ Unsaved and unsure - do you know Him? Do you want to? You must choose.
Saved, children of God - are you LIVING for Him? Walking in obedience?
~ 600+ people filled the church. Though many were spouses/children, her life had an impact on hundreds of people! Numbers do not equal worth or godliness by any means, but having that many people give up other choices/opportunities to come honor a life IS a testimony of a life well lived!
~ Photo collage. Everyday moments - camping, pj's, Christmas, holding kids, swimming, all dolled up, without one stitch of makeup, good hair, bad hair, heavy, thin - it is HER!!!!!!!!
Every photo evoked emotion.
Women - GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA!!! Your family wants to remember you, no matter how big your butt may be! (Maybe they like your butt!)
Her family has all of these memories in photos because she was willing to be in them. A precious gift for them - one they never knew they would need.
JOY comes through her eyes. It radiates from her.
Do my eyes radiate joy? Would people watch my life in photos and see a woman full of joy? Passion? Contentment? I wonder.
~ Bible study leader, friend, and sister spoke about Susan.
Older daughter read a letter she had written.
Younger daughter clung to her father. (Luke said it was hard to sing watching her weep in her father's arms.)
~ Her husband spoke. (I love when the intimate family shares. Remind Dennis that I want him to speak at mine!)
He read Proverbs 31
"Her life was a sermon to me every day."
He broke and cried.
Every woman in the room was crying.
"She worked and she prayed all the time."
He shared her final moments. So intimate. Beautiful.
Share the final moments publicly! People want to hear, they need to hear ... it offers closure and peace.
~ Remind Dennis - my funeral plans say "NO BLACK!" Rejoice for me because I am with the Lord! This is a celebration of life EVERLASTING!
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
~ It is BETTER to go to a house of mourning ... because it forces us to look at our own life - and ask questions.
- Would this many people be at my funeral? Have I impacted the lives of others? Especially for the sake of Christ?- What would my children testify about me? Would they talk about how I pour into them and show them Jesus every day? Or would they talk about how strict I am and how much I nag them to do their chores the right way? What would win - nurturing their hearts and loving them? Or correct behavior? Oh, Lord ...
- What would Dennis say? Am I striving to be the Proverbs 31 model of a wife? Do I serve him? Respect him? Honor him in the public square?
- Do I have a joy for the Lord that is evident? Would people assume I am a Christian, or would they be surprised to find out?
- Would people in my life feel a loss if I died young? Would I leave a hole?
- Am I giving to, and investing in, others? Sacrificing self to serve? Stirring others up for love and good deeds? Encouraging them in the faith?
Thank You, Lord, for today. It would never have crossed my mind to be at such an event on a day like this. But YOU KNEW it was exactly what I needed. Not only was I able to shed tears for my own heartache, but You drew my thoughts to the only place they ever need to be - HEAVEN! It really is all about that isn't it, Lord? Eternity. Heaven or hell. Accepting Your free gift of salvation, or rejecting You forever. It is indeed, all about heaven.
Thank You for the life of Susan. Sustain her husband and her daughters through these weeks and months ahead as they try desperately to trust You and rest in Your love - and Your plan for them. Thank You for her life - a life of faithfulness and surrender to You - and her passion for loving others because You loved her first. Let me take this day to heart, and use it to challenge me about how I am living/using my own life since I too will stand before You one day waiting with baited breath to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in." Oh, Lord - may I be found FAITHFUL!