We attended a funeral on Friday...a friend's mother passed away. She lived a life of service to her family, her church and in her neighborhood, teaching, serving, and being hospitable. Her work is over. Her days on earth are done. She has gone to the heavenly home and heavenly rest promised.
One scripture the pastor used at her service was Psalm 116:15 "Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of his saints." Another version says "When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him." And yet another, "The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die."
I don't understand the whole life and death thing... I'm grateful for the first, for life and living it abundantly, for new life, for babies. And yet I know there is a season for everything and a necessary life cycle. I imagine there is coming a day when I'll be grateful for the latter. When, as it says in Eccesiastes 12, I am stooped over and my grinders cease because they are few. When my eyes see dimly and my hearing fails. When I rise up early in the morning with birds but can't enjoy their singing for diminished aural abilities. That'll be the time I'll be grateful for a home going, for opportunity to enter into a final rest. I hope God will welcome me at the gates of death. I pray my passing will be precious in his sight.
There is a beautiful hymn we sang in my old church...Does Jesus Care? It brought tears every time it was sung. And yet it is oh so comforting, especially the chorus:
Oh yes he cares, I know he cares,
His heart is touched by my grief;
When the days are weary,
And the long nights dreary,
I know my savior cares.
(from I Peter 5:7 the cast-all-your-cares verse)
But I'm not sad. The funeral wasn't a sad service. It was a celebration of a life well lived and a joyous send-off. Most all of Mrs. Shaffer's great-grandchildren, led by their cousin the youngest Shaffer granddaughter, stood up front and sang "Jesus Loves Me". How proud she must have been, watching down and whispering her prayer that each of them would know in their heart the truth of that simple song. Jesus loves us. And he wants us to love him back. The Bible tells me so.