When my head hit the pillow last night, I still did not know what I would share during today’s memorial service for a dear friend. Many friends both new and old shared wise counsel with me. While all of this helped, the words still had not become clear.
It’s not that there were no words. There were many thoughts rattling around in my head. There were lots of questions, too. As I drifted off to sleep, I asked the Lord to give me a gift of words to share. He has done this often before, so I rested well in spite of the fact that so much was yet to be resolved. I took great solace, also, in knowing how many people throughout the world were in prayer for me and others who would lead in our friend’s memorial service today.
All through the week a thousand questions filled my mind. As I envisioned myself standing before Lisa’s family and friends I could not help but wonder who amongst us would have imagined we would be remembering her as we would today. Who would have thought that our hearts would be saddened by her death? More than anything, though, I kept hearing myself ask: How do we go forward with life from day-to-day?
When I arose early this morning, it was crystal clear to me. I realized that God had already given the gift that I sought. It was the gift of Lisa’s life! Yes, the life of the one we were gathering to memorializing was the means by which God would show us how to press on. She had gone before us to show the way.
I must add that one of the older members of our church family came up to me after this morning’s service saying that of all the good things she had heard spoken about others at such services she was never more confident that the words spoken regarding Lisa were both appropriate and accurate. If you would like to read Lisa’s obituary, you can do so by clicking this link.
What follows is the essence of the comments which I made at her memorial service earlier today:
1) Lisa lived a life of calm conviction that Christ is in control and each day is full of meaning and purpose…
…some people spend their whole lives searching for a place of quiet refuge in times of trial; Lisa was, for many of us, that refuge.
…some people spend their whole lives searching for meaning a purpose; Lisa lived a meaningful life each day.
…some people spend their whole lives searching for the keys to success and power; Lisa showed us that the key to both is surrendering to Christ, hour-by-hour.
(2) Lisa lived a life of calm conviction, because of the choices she made under Christ’s control…
…She chose to love – Her life was a reflection of the qualities of love articulated by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, “4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails…”
…She chose to look on the bright side, even when faced with disappointments – Her life was not free from heartache. She knew well what it was like to deal with loss, as well. For this very day is the anniversary of the death of her own brother, who preceded her in death in 1988. In spite of all these things she chose to look on the bright side of the things she encountered along life’s way. She did not merely light “a” candle instead of cursing the darkness. Her whole life was about lighting candles. She did this at her workplace, in her neighborhood, through her involvement in scouting, in her church family and in the lives of those nearest to her. She was for us a living model of what the Spirit meant when he had Paul record the words of Romans 5:1-5, “1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
…She chose to trust God, when faced with challenges of any sort – Proverbs 3:5-6, “5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
…She chose to give, when she was aware of needs – Her life epitomized the idea encouraged in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
…She chose to serve, when faced with sickness – Her career in medicine was but an extension of her loving and compassionate heart. Though the context is different, Lisa gave us a clear of example of what it looks like to live into the challenge of Jesus stated in Matthew 9:13, “…I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
…She also chose to follow Christ even when faced with seasons of despair – John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(3) Lisa lived a life of faith that was crowned in victory!
A portrait of her life of blessed service to others was crafted by Jesus in His Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-40…
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
…She, like the faithful servant in the parable which precedes this one, has already heard the Master say: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” –Matthew 25:23.
Thus we conclude…
If Lisa could share one last thought with us today, my heart is telling me that she would say with her sweet smiling melting our hearts that it is true—every word spoken by Jesus, every promise made and every principle He expressed.
But none is truer or more appropriate than the words of hope and comfort spoken by our Lord when he said…
…28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (-Matthew 11:28-30)
And no words give us more confidence that her life of faithfulness is now crowned in victory than these spoken to Martha by Jesus…
…25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (-John 11:25)
And no words more fittingly call us to move forward with a desire to honor Lisa’s legacy of faith through our own faithfulness than these…
…13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”