|Blog – 4-17-19|
I went to a funeral yesterday of a good friend’s mom. Helen was 91 years old and was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She always had a smile on her face, and you knew from the moment you met her that she was truly a woman of faith. Her church was her second home and second family, where she taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and served the church she loved in numerous ways.
As her family shared precious stories of how she always showed hospitality and love to others, especially her family, I remembered my own sweet times with Helen. The first time I met her I loved her! She welcomed me with open arms and the best broccoli cheese soup I’ve ever tasted! I remember feeling right at home as we sat around her kitchen table. She instantly made me feel like she truly cared about me. She had the innate ability to make you feel like you had known her your entire life, and she absolutely radiated with the light of Jesus.
I read an interesting commentary in The Message today in Luke 24 that reminded me of Helen. It says, “And the saints – those men and women whom the church has held up as being exemplary for our lives – have been joyful people. Tertullian wrote in the third century of the ‘hilariousness of the saints.’ He told us further that he became a Christian not because he had studied the Scriptures but because he had seen the Christians live and coveted what they had. Tolstoy wrote that he became a Christian because he saw that the men and women round about him who believed in the faith received from it a power that enabled them to face life and death with peace and joy.”
Two all-time great, classic authors, Tertullian and Tolstoy, were moved to faith because of what they saw in others, not because of what they read in books. It was faith lived out in the day-to-day lives of people around them that helped them discover the truth of salvation.
I believe Helen was one of the saints Tertullian wrote about and her life was indeed exemplary. She faced her life with the peace and joy that Tolstoy wrote about that brought him to Christ. I can’t help but think about how many people she attracted to Jesus simply because of who she was and how she lived her everyday, small-town life.
And her faith also gave her the ability to face her own death bravely. In fact, she welcomed it! She lost her beloved husband, Russ, in 2015, and her heart was broken. But Helen carried on with grace, even as macular degeneration stole her eyesight. Then six weeks ago one of her sons passed away suddenly, and her heart was shattered. My friend told me, “She was just tired and wanted to go home.”
There were many tears as her grandchildren and children shared heartwarming stories of precious times together, but through their tears I witnessed the joy and the peace as well. Yes, they were so very sad to say goodbye to the heart and soul of their family, but they possessed peace as well. There was joy hidden beneath the pain. They were grateful for the love she had poured out on each of them, and they had no doubt that she was in a better place. She had given each of them a firm foundation of faith to stand on in their time of need, enabling them to see the victory she is dancing in today.
As we celebrate Easter on Sunday, I will be thinking about Helen. I will be asking myself some hard questions, like am I living an exemplary life like she did? Am I attracting people to Jesus with peace and joy in my everyday, simple life? Will my children remember me for my faith? Am I sharing the Good News with people I come in contact with?
Reflecting on a life well-lived, like my sweet friend Helen, I realize once again it’s the little things we do that attract others to Christ. Showing love to our families. Bringing a plate of cookies to a new neighbor and inviting them to church. Offering love instead of judgment. Listening instead of condemning. Simply being present.
Helen’s family will miss her desperately. I will miss Helen as well. But I absolutely rejoice for her because I know that today she is dancing with Russ and Myron and all the Saints as they worship our risen savior, Jesus Christ!
And I can almost hear God saying,
“Well done, my child. Well done!”
Hugs and love,