I’m a reserved gal who holds high expectations, so it takes something to impact or impress me. Imagine my surprise when I came out of a funeral last week and my first response after leaving the service was…”what a wonderful funeral!” The funeral was for the mother of my dear friend, Karen. I was actually having lunch with her when she received the unexpected call that her mother died. It was of course very upsetting at the time but I am thankful God allowed me to be there with Karen at that moment. So many emotions and thoughts get plowed through in those first few minutes after receiving such news…confusion, shock, sorrow, regret, learning the how-where-when-who, remembering the last time together with that person, how to break the news to other loved ones, all the people who need to be called, and who needs to do what and where. Such a traumatic event yet so much to be done and processed in a relatively short period of time in order to now prepare for a funeral that just 30 minutes ago was no where in one’s realm of thinking…just fleeting thoughts of yard sales and where to have lunch.
Like others before them, Karen and her siblings, Libby and Steve pulled all the necessary logistical elements together in the time given to facilitate an event…which in this case was a funeral, however what I experienced during that funeral was something that took God a woman’s lifetime to pull together. If it were only for the beautiful floral bouquets with sincere sentiments, or the carefully selected photos of a life surrounded by special family mementos such as the first sewing project Mrs. Parker completed as a girl (a dress for one of her baby dolls) or the delicious selection of homemade desserts arranged in the middle of the luncheon tables, I would consider it a normal, albeit very touching and classy funeral. However, what vastly overshadowed all those carefully attended-to details, was the faithful and obedient life Mrs. Parker lead and that all the glory was abundantly given to God. Her children called her bless-ed and they are continuing the spiritual heritage within their own three families that Mr. and Mrs. Parker started. She was well-loved and respected by her siblings, and was remembered for her fascination with God’s creation and how even at an early age she was concerned for people’s souls. Although her husband preceded her in death, she did not let that hinder the work God still had planned for her on this earth. She not only felt the need to be involved in organized ministry, such as Christian Women’s Clubs (which had continued up until I believe a week prior to her death…when she had ‘passed the baton’ to another) or vacation Bible schools, but it seemed she was even more involved in what I’ll call ‘every day ministry’. She gave and served others from the different resources she had (time, creativity, gardens, spare rooms, etc). She took in boarders, share-cropped her garden, kept her garage door ‘open’ so that friends young and old felt free to stop in for tea and a chat, and baked some pretty delicious sounding treats that apparently lured people from all corners of the county. It may seem I am exalting her and her good works, but her children state that their mother would be the first to give God all the praise and all the glory.
The funeral service was peppered with stories about Mrs. Parker, because that was the life we were there to remember, however those who gave tribute of this woman were quick to relate how she influenced their relationship with God. Whether it was influencing them to begin a relationship with Christ, or encouraging them in their growth. Her motives and her actions were out of love for her Lord and Savior and what she accomplished on earth was to point others to Him.
Isn’t that what our lives should look like in the end? Shouldn’t all who have made a decision to follow Christ have a funeral such as the one I just described? An event where individuals gather to reflect on a life well lived, and not with the goal of exalting them, but of glorifying God through the life of one obedient person. Of course we will miss seeing our loved ones, especially ones as special as Mrs. Parker. But alongside those emotions, when we know our loved one is now in the presence of our Savior, great joy can also be experienced because if their life was lived for God, their life was actually spent preparing for the day they went home to meet their God face to face and hearing those long-awaited words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Thank you Karen, Steve and Libby, for arranging such an impactful and God-honoring service. Your mom sounds absolutely charming and I so look forward to meeting her someday. To God be the glory…great things He has done in and through her life!
I’ve attached her obituary below: