Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Tribute To My Aunt

(In the final weeks before her death, my Aunt was living proof of the hope we have in Christ. Following is the tribute I gave at her funeral. She went to be with the Lord on December 18, 2007.)

1 Peter 1: 3-9 (NIV):

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

When I first learned of my Aunt Madeline’s death and told our children, one of their first responses was, “At least she’ll get to spend Christmas with Jesus.” That comment immediately brought to mind a song that’s played quite often during the holidays on the radio called “The Christmas Shoes”. It’s about a little boy who wants to get his dying mother a pair of shoes for Christmas. Part of the chorus goes like this:

Sir I wanna buy these shoes, for my Momma please…
You see, she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes will make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful,
If Momma meets Jesus tonight.

Every time I hear that song now, I think of my Aunt Madeline – meeting Jesus and spending Christmas with her Lord and Savior. In the last weeks of her life she enjoyed listening to praise and worship music and it seemed that it was in anticipation of heaven. Just like the verses above, she believed in Him and was filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, because she was looking forward to receiving the goal of her faith, the salvation of her soul. Amidst her horrific suffering and pain, she radiated a joy that could not be squelched by her failing body and sorrowful circumstances. I was amazed at her ability to praise God and not show any bitterness, regret or anger. This is not to say that she wasn’t sad or scared or heartbroken or wracked with pain – as any of us would be – but it was her faith in Christ that sustained her. It was a peace that surpassed understanding, a peace that can only come from a personal relationship with Jesus. Again, just as in 1 Peter, while she was suffering, her faith was proved genuine as it resulted in praise, glory and honor.

Visiting with Aunt Madeline, not only assured me of her salvation, but it also re-assured me of mine. The testimony of her faithfulness and courage was a reminder to me of how powerful the Holy Spirit can be in our lives. It was the Holy Spirit who had enabled her to undergo such an ordeal with a smile on her face. I know that Aunt Madeline suffered a great deal and we, who love her, suffer still. But this suffering is only temporary and in comparison to eternity is like a blink of the eye. If we trust in Christ for our salvation then instead of an eternity of suffering, we can look forward to everlasting life free of pain and tears and full of joy and praise!

As we approach Christmas in a couple of days, I hope that you will think about Aunt Madeline spending Christmas with Jesus. And isn’t that what Christmas is about – meeting Jesus?

To loosely quote another Christmas song:
Hark now hear the angels sing, a new King born today
And man will live forever more because of Christmas Day
Trumpets sound and angels sing, listen to what they say
That Madeline will live forever more because of Christmas Day!

(This post has been submitted to Proverbs 31 Ministries for A Chance For You To Get Published)


Heidi @ GGIP said...

What a lovely tribute to your aunt. I can't even imagine having the strength to speak at a funeral. I loved the comments of your children about her being with Jesus on Christmas.

Celly B said...

What a touching story! Thank you for sharing it with us.