In my last post, I wrote about my husband’s grandmother, Elsie, who passed away last week.
Her funeral was today.
What I enjoyed most about Elsie’s funeral (does that sound odd, to say that I enjoyed it?) was the evidence of joy in the midst of sorrow.
Most everyone who attended her funeral, and certainly everyone who spoke at the service, remembered Elsie with fondness and happiness. People laughed, cried, and laughed again as they shared memories of Elsie’s delicious farm-to-table cuisine (before it was trendy), her no-nonsense attitude, her surprising sense of humor, and her incredible work ethic.
But no matter how people knew Elsie, whether family or friend, through church activities or small-town life, they knew that she knew Jesus. And because of that relationship, generations of her family have had the precious opportunity to know him as well.
I discovered today that Elsie was saved at age twenty-nine. For some reason, I had always assumed that she grew up in a Christian home, but this was not so. I never asked her to share her testimony, and now, I wish that I had.
In any case, I wonder – did getting saved as an adult affect her differently than it would have if she had come to know the Lord as a child? What I mean is, those saved as children – and I am one of them – sometimes tend to take the Lord for granted. We are too comfortable with him, and yet perhaps not familiar enough with him to take to heart his command to spread his gospel.
But I have observed that those saved as adults often seem to take the Great Commission seriously, especially within their families. Apparently, Elsie and Carl, her husband, did just that.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. – Mark 16:15
My children and I were asked to perform the lovely old hymn “In the Garden” at the service. My older two played their guitar and ukulele, and my youngest sang with me. While we sang, I looked toward the back of the church, above the heads of those in the congregation, avoiding eye contact – a strategy I often use when singing in an emotionally-charged situation. (If I see someone crying, I might burst into tears myself.) But my daughter said that she looked out and saw a sea of faces there, full pew after full pew. At least half the people attending were family, and most of those were believers.
From one couple have come generations of Christians, dozens who may not have known the Lord were it not for the faithful witness of Elsie and Carl.
And because of all those Christians there today, this was a joyful funeral. We have a sure hope that we will see Elsie, and Carl, and many more loved ones in heaven one day.
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. – I Corinthians 5:7, 8
For a Christian, death isn’t the end of life. It’s a step into a life more real, more alive, than life on earth could ever be.