On March 22nd, 2006, my mom was promoted to glory from this life. While I am still missing her each day, it is magnified on Mother’s Day. In her memory, I have posted the eulogy I shared at her memorial service. I hope that it is encouraging, especially to those who have lost their mothers. Blessings.
There is an account in the Gospel of Luke where a woman who has been ill for 12 years presses through a crowd toward Jesus. Her thought is that if she can just touch the hem of His robe, she will be healed and made whole. When she finally makes her way through the mass of bodies and brushes against His clothes, she is instantly healed. She does not cry out, she does not explode into song, she works her way back through the crowd away from Jesus. In the midst of this chaos, the voice of Jesus can be heard saying, “Who touched me?” The disciples deny that any of them touched Jesus and ask how he could possibly know someone had touched Him with such a crowd around Him. He simply replies, “I know that power has gone out from me.” The woman humbly admits it is she who touched His garments unsure of what His response will be. With gentleness and love He said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
In this life it is sometimes hard to see Jesus through the crowd, especially when some of us who say we love Him don’t act like it and others act as if He isn’t there. My Mom was one of those people who pressed through the crowd. There were plenty of reasons not too: physical limitations, health concerns, losses, turmoil, the trials common to all people. But she kept pressing through the crowd.
She lived in a body unsympathetic to her dreams. With increasing pain and decreasing mobility, she found herself becoming a person she had not foreseen. But still she pressed on through the crowd.
Regardless of circumstances, mishaps or setbacks and in the midst of joy, victory and celebration there was a constant in my Mom’s life: her faith in God. No matter how big or boisterous the crowd got, she tried to keep her eyes on Jesus and keep pressing on. She held on to Scriptures like:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
And, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Or, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
And so she pressed on. It was her faith that gave purpose and direction to her life. Her passion for helping others through good counsel, prayer and fellowship kept her going when her body wanted to quit.
There is a story of a man coming to a beach covered with starfish. In fact, there were so many starfish that he could not see the sand. Among the multitude of starfish was a young girl, picking up one starfish at a time and throwing it back into the sea and safety. The man watched for a while and then approached the young girl. He asked, “Why are you throwing the starfish back into the sea?” She replied, “If they are out of the water for too long they will die.” The man looked at the innumerable starfish surrounding the two of them and asked, “Why? It will make no difference.” The young woman paused from her labor and looked at the man and held up a starfish for him to see before she threw it into the sea. “It makes a difference for that one,” she said and began her labor. In moments the man began picking up starfish and tossing them to the sea and safety.
My mom was drawn to the stranded and helpless and did her best to get them to the ocean of God’s great love. There may not be books written – no movies or TV dramas produced – about my mom. But for those she helped to see God’s love and salvation she made a difference. And she inspired others to join the effort. She knew of a better place for those swept up by God’s love, and so she pressed on.
In the classic book by CS Lewis, The Last Battle, the final chapters of Narnia have come to pass. It is the end of that beautiful and fantastic world. The young children who had found themselves pulled from our world into Narnia, find themselves in another place. It is much like Narnia, but more. They are told they must go Further up and Farther in. And so they do. In the journey they find they are capable of things once impossible. They run and don’t grow weary, they walk and don’t grow faint, and they soar through the land on feet made swift by joy and excitement. Until they find themselves in that far off country we all look too with hope and tears.
I like to think that in my mom’s last moments she found herself in another place. A place bright and bold and bigger than any other place she had been before. And in this place she made her way through a crowd, drawn in by something, only to find Jesus in the center. I like to think that while she walked her way through the crowd she realized a few things: first, that she was walking, not with labored steps, but effortlessly; second, the pain so consistent and dependable over the years was absent not only from her body, but her soul as well; third, an overwhelming sense of belonging and finally, she noticed the people. I like to think that smiles lined her way, familiar faces from over the years, greeting her on the journey. I like to think when she reached Jesus she reached out to touch his robe just to make sure He was real. I believe He embraced her and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you whole. Be at peace.”
That is what I believe, but I will just have to press on and see. I guess we will all have to press on and see.
I hope you will press on. I hope you will take time to throw starfish into the sea. I hope you will live a life that pushes further up and further in to the presence of God. I pray that each of us will be little more like the person we dream we can be every day. I pray we will all press on for I know if we do, we will all reach Jesus, and the smiling face we sorely miss today will greet us one day.