We went to a funeral last night for the elderly mother of a friend. Her obituary said, “homemaker and self-described ‘Farmer’s wife'”. I never met her in life, but I think we would have been friends.
It was a warm evening and the atmosphere was soft. She was well loved, one could tell. People filled the chapel and sang How Great Thou Art and The Old Rugged Cross. I closed my eyes tight in worship. God is good, you know, even in death.
During the service, friends were asked to share some of their memories of the beloved “Miss Flo”.
“She was a prayer warrior,” one woman said, “and spent her last years praying faithfully for everyone she knew. I stopped to see her one day and she said, ‘Oh, I’m so glad to see you! I’ve been praying for you!’ and I responded, ‘But Miss Flo, you’re the one in the hospital!’ But that’s just the way she was. Always praying. Always serving.”
Another woman spoke softly from the right side, “Miss Flo was a baby-lover. She’d come to church and snuggle the babies. When she got too old to crawl around on the floor with them, she claimed the rocking chair and called them to her. They all loved her.”
Then a man stood up near the front. He spoke strong and his voice echoed a bit in the room, “It was 18 years ago when my wife and I darkened the door of her church– and she met us and hugged us and drew us in. She showed us Jesus and I’m so thankful that my three daughters and my wife have her beautiful example to follow as they serve Him.”
Testimonies of a woman who loved strongly and spoke gently and prayed fervently.
Oh, I wish I could have known her.
And then the pastor, her son-in-law, stood and shared more about her life. About the babies she bore and the babies she buried. Her oldest son to spinal meningitis. Her youngest stillborn. Six babes born as they worked and slaved on the farm and only four made it to her funeral.
And her beauty grew deeper as her sorrows were painted.
She could have grown bitter. Trying to live for Jesus with a husband who did not believe and babies buried deep in the ground. She could have shook her fist at the heavens and said, “How could you do this to me?” But instead she grew humble and meek. Accepting both joys and pain with grace.
And before her husband died, he came to know Christ.
And she touched numerous lives with the love of Jesus.
And grace abounded.
And is this not the story that can be each of ours?
Living Jesus. Loving without limits. Pouring out grace.
Allowing our sorrows to paint beauty deeper into our lives.
May this be my story.
And friend? May it be yours as well.