Posts Tagged ‘death’

Happy New Year?

January 8, 2015

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I certainly hope so! A Happy New Year is what I sincerely wish for everyone who reads this… but who knows? The Bible says: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow: for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27v1) Indeed, knowing how it is with the terrible unrest in this world, we brace ourselves in the knowledge that just about any evil can be perpetrated.

Today I have been hearing about the recent Paris shootings from my daughter who works a short distance from the area where they took place. How my heart goes out to the loved ones and friends of those who were murdered, some of whom were police officers. Yes, who knows “what a day may bring forth?”

Shortly before Christmas my dear Mum passed away on 13th December. I was just starting to come to terms with this terrible loss when suddenly we received the news that my husband’s Dad, of whom I was very fond, had also passed away. My children have witnessed the funerals of two of their grandparents – one on 16th December and the other just eight days later, on Christmas Eve… And this past year I have also had to face up to other negative news concerning my health, having had a third operation.

I often wondered how on earth I could ever cope with the loss of my mother – but I have! How can this be so and how can I have lived through such a traumatic time over these last few weeks, with whole nights spent without sleep? The answer is… I could not possibly have coped if I had not been leaning on the Lord and His great power to carry me through.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46v1

He has helped me to cope physically and He has helped me to remain calm when faced by some very distressing circumstances.

“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34v4)

I met an acquaintance (a Christian) locally one day while shopping and I told her about Mum.

“Oh, but your mother knew the Lord didn’t she?” she said cheerfully.

“Yes, but I miss her so much…”

“Oh, Elizabeth…” she said warmly, “she’s gone just a little while before you. You’ll see her again!”

“Yes, yes… you’re right of course. That’s true…”

Somehow those cheerful words put a spring in my step and I continued on my way, much encouraged on that dark December day after her funeral. Yes, in just a little while I will see her again. Recently, too, I also remembered Mum’s words to me… “Don’t worry about me love… if I’m not here some day, you’ll know where I am…”

What a glorious wonder… to see the face of our Redeemer, our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Meanwhile I will go in His strength, sowing the seed, distributing her testimonies – and that of my Dad who passed away just three years ago.

And I am ready to reach others in whatever way the Lord will direct me, until the Lord’s return – or His home call to me. Who knows, indeed, what a day may bring forth (never mind a year) in this uncertain and dangerous world we live in?

To those who know Him… “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46v11)

What a wonderful Saviour, Redeemer, Comforter, Confidant and Friend to have as we launch into the year ahead – whether its waters are troubled or smooth.

Whoever you are, yes, I do wish you have a happy year ahead but who knows? And even when everything is going our way, without the Saviour life is really meaningless. Furthermore none of us are immune from unhappy events in this world, whatever our profession of faith… but His grace is greater!

If you have never done so – trust Him now to forgive you your sins and to shoulder your burdens and heartaches – and He will deal with them all, for He died that you might have life and have it more abundantly and then, even when the low times come knocking at your door, He will carry you through and you can claim these words for your own…

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

 

 

The Testimony of my mother Ella Hutchinson (née Turkington) (27th May 1929 – 13th December 2014)

December 29, 2014

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even our very demeanour and presence would make such a deep impression on people that it would lead to their trusting the Lord as Saviour? Mary Cordner, the Faith Mission pilgrim who led my father to the Lord, made such an impression on my mother, that she was later to pen this poem about her…

 

I met a soul so full of grace

And as I gazed upon her face,

I found it was not hard to see

Where she would spend eternity.

And sadly I did leave her there

But in her love for God did share,

And prayed that I might be like she –

So full of grace and charity.

 

 

For me it was an enormous privilege to have been brought up by parents who came to know the Lord as Saviour before their marriage. I shall always remember my mother’s generosity and hospitality to the many visitors to our home and to all the people who came to help my father on the farm and her goodness to one ill and elderly man in particular, as she washed sheets for him by hand and made meals for him. In fact my mother made such an impression on me in this respect, that I penned a poem about her for Mother’s Day once. References to all the lovely things she accomplished, as well as her talent for art are included in the poem which is inspired by the words of Proverbs 31v10-31. I have printed it as a tribute to her at the end of her testimony. This is my mother’s testimony, as related to me one evening in 2012…

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“I was brought up in the town of Portadown, County Armagh, in a loving home where Sunday was respected as the Lord’s Day and where my only sister and I were sent to Church and Sunday school, but it was not from the church pulpit that I found a witness or any words ever spoken to convict me of sin; rather this was to come from many a faithful witness of the Lord over the years.

I remember once when I was very young my family and I were on holidays for a week in Warrenpoint, a picturesque little coastal town in County Down. We were staying in one of those lovely old guesthouses along by the seafront and I shall never forget the meaningful question of the elderly man of that house… “Do you love the Lord Jesus?” These simple words touched me and made an impression on me at the time, filling my child’s mind with conviction. I remember turning and running back upstairs again to my room, where I knelt by the little bedstead and prayed to the Lord, as best as I knew how at the time. This special moment in my life has stayed with me over the years and I feel that it was then that the stirrings of conviction had begun in my heart.

The years passed with all their ups and downs for even children have these times in life and often I would have had thoughts of eternity. What would happen to me when I died? I was filled with dread at the thought of this. When I was around nine years old I took a disease called rheumatic fever which attacked me badly, leaving a legacy of ill health which still affects me today. I recall walking home from school holding onto the railings and then my mother kept me at home from school to nurse me back to health. I was nearly a year missing from school and I shall never forget my return there; I had missed so much and the teacher had no sympathy with me whatsoever, even under these circumstances. School became something of a nightmare for me, as I was never helped to catch up on everything that I had missed. When I think on those years now, how good it is to have a Saviour to lean on – and how miserable the lives of men, women and children who shoulder these burdens alone!

World War Two broke out in 1939 when we were in Newcastle, County Down on holidays at the end of the summer and I worried about my father being taken away from us to fight in the war against the Germans. I remember wondering whether we should we hide him in the attic! My father was an insurance agent in those days and worked very hard, cycling around the country to sell insurance. My mother worked hard too, as she looked after both her own mother and her mother-in-law until they passed away.

Another incident stands out in my mind; a simple event which was to fill me with conviction. I was around eleven or twelve when a tent mission came to the Seagoe area, just down the road from where I lived. I remember curiously cycling close to it and hearing the lovely singing of the opening hymn. A man called to me from the tent opening… “Won’t you come in?”

I, in turn made some excuse about not having a hat and he answered that this didn’t matter. I believe now that the man just wanted me to hear the gospel but I made my excuse because I knew instinctively, even then, that this meeting could mean that I had to greatly change my life in some way.

Some time later a clergyman called to the house one day to see whether I would like to be confirmed.  My mother opened the door to the gentleman in question and as soon as she did so I ran out the back door! Other young people may have viewed confirmation as just another ordinance of the church, but I sincerely felt that I could not go through with such a ceremony, unless I had truly made a commitment to the Lord. I honestly felt that to be confirmed would be wrong at the time and so I never was.

Eventually, at age fourteen I left school and started an apprenticeship with a hairdresser in Portadown. As I grew into a young woman, I would go out to the cinema occasionally on a Saturday, but apart from this, I didn’t socialise much. After some years, when I was just nineteen in the year 1948, I met a young man who was from the country near Armagh, whose name was ‘Jack Hutchinson.’ In those days the bridge over the River Bann was a favourite meeting place for young people and it was here that I was amused one evening to see Jack throwing a box of matches in the air. I think that perhaps he was trying to impress me but as it happened he dropped them!

Unknown to me, this young man had spotted me on other occasions too – once at a sports event when I was much younger and another time at some amusements. I was a bit of a ‘loner’ in those days and Jack told me later that he had noticed that I was standing alone, away from the crowds. Now that I had met Jack we would both go out together to the ‘Regal’ cinema on a Saturday night. I enjoyed his company very much but then something happened which was the start of a great change in Jack’s life. In the early summer of 1950 he started to go to a mission which was being run by an organisation known as the Faith Mission, in a little hall at Cloughan near Armagh. Jack had always attended his church faithfully, but now he told me that he knew that there was something missing in his life and one day he told me that he felt that he would like to have the assurance of being ‘saved.’ I was very curious about this mission and wanted to know what he meant, so I too went along with him one evening.

There I met Miss Cordner, the Faith Mission pilgrim who was later to lead Jack to the Lord and I have to say that this lady made a very deep impression on me, for she seemed so pure and full of goodness. This encounter awakened a yearning in me; I wanted, as the poem which I wrote about Miss Cordner goes, to ‘be like she… so full of grace and charity.’ Soon, one day Jack told me that he had been back to this mission again and that he had trusted the Lord to save him. Right then I knew that my life would need to change too if our relationship was to continue. I had been trying to read the Bible in those days, but starting in the Old Testament I found many things so difficult to accept and yet I knew that this was God’s Word and I wanted to be right with Him.

Conviction of sin lay heavily upon me in those days following Jack’s conversion. I remember praying and pleading with the Lord to make me right with Him. The conviction upon me was so deep that I would pray aloud in anguish, so much so that my sister Betty heard me. Seeing how disturbed I was, she gave me some advice… “Perhaps if you pray, meaning every word, it will work,” I recall her saying to me.

Then one night my parents and sister were not there and I was alone praying and pleading again in our living room. That evening I was kneeling at the left hand side of the fireplace and I cried unto the Lord: “Lord save me!” And praise God that evening I knew that something marvellous had happened; I had broken through to Him this time… He had answered my prayer and He had saved me and what is more, this time I believed that He had saved me! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

How I thank the Lord for that wonderful evening which was to set the scene for the rest of my life! In those days we didn’t know to write down the date of when we came to know the Saviour. I know that it was just a very short time after Jack’s salvation experience but I am uncertain as to exactly when. But I know where it happened and praise God, I know that He answered me when I cried out to Him that evening and I began to know His lovely Presence in my life. It makes me smile now when I think about how Jack and I were such an enthusiastic young couple, anxiously wanting to work for the Lord wherever He would lead us.

How our lives changed! “Behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5v17) Instead of going to the Regal on a Saturday night, we started to go to the young people’s meeting in Edenderry Presbyterian Church Hall in Portadown. Now, on the bus to work I felt that I should read the Bible openly as a witness to my fellow passengers. However, I remember a neighbour asking me a question about the Book of Revelation which I was unable to answer as I had only just started to read the Bible! On one occasion Jack and I were invited to give our testimonies in a mission hall in Tandragee and I remember that Jack took such a long time speaking that the person behind him on the platform pulled on his jacket! Those were good days – and although we were to have many ups and downs in the years that lay ahead, the Lord was faithful and kept us faithful to each other and to Him.

On May 27th 1952 (which was my 23rd birthday!) Jack and I were married, but returning from our honeymoon in Scotland I found quite a challenge awaited me! Here was I, a young woman of just twenty-three from an urban background going to live in an old house on a little farm at the end of a long winding country lane! But somehow the Lord undertook and I learned to lean on Him throughout it all. I was to learn that the only safe place is to be leaning on the Lord for all the negative situations that hit me in life.

One lovely memory stays with me to this day… I remember one day that I was hanging washing on the line at this first old country house we used to live in when suddenly I heard heavenly singing – like a chorus, or a choir of angels coming from the old Armagh Road. To this day I have no idea as to the source of the singing, but it is a beautiful and very special experience which I still share with loved ones today.

In our years in that old farm at Liskeyborough, before we eventually moved to Woodview, Jack and I had four healthy children: Elizabeth, George, Grace and Christine; each one of them is so special to me in their own unique way and I pray for my daughters and their husbands and my son and his wife, and all my grandchildren, that each soul will truly know the gracious Presence of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in their daily lives.

Throughout the years the Lord has been my faithful Friend – a never failing Friend whose love for me has given me strength to face tomorrow, whatever it may hold. I recall especially how the Lord undertook for me during my heart operation which occurred over twenty years ago. After a ‘touch and go operation’ a leaking heart valve was successfully replaced and the Lord wonderfully gave me many more years to be with my family and to see all of my grandchildren. On another occasion I had a serious hernia operation, after being in considerable pain and in recent years I have been in and out of hospital with bouts of pneumonia and have even been diagnosed with heart failure but my Saviour has been my strength and refuge throughout life’s battles. With my brothers and sisters in the Lord I can say… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)

How He has been with me and strengthened me through my own personal illnesses, pain and serious operations over a whole lifetime; through the illnesses of loved ones and through the recent loss of my dear Jack to whom I was married for nearly 60 years, when he passed away in February 2011. But I praise Him that after life’s short day, it is not the end! One day recently I looked up into the beauty of the sky and I thought… “Heaven is up there… that is where the dear Lord is, that is where Jack is – and that is where I am going!” Once when I was searching for words of reassurance for the Lord’s sanctifying power in my life, He gave me these words: “I am with you and shall be in you.”

Today I claim those words afresh as I look to Jesus, who gave His life that I might go to be where He is, when He calls to take me Home – Home where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes and where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying nor pain. (Revelation 21v4) “My Jesus if ever I loved thee, tis now!

 

For My Mum

(Proverbs 31v10-31)

Born in the lovely month of May

Yours was always the blossom…

Apple, Hawthorne and Cherry

Gracing Ireland’s hedgerows and trees,

Just as you graced every house

You ever lived in, making it home –

Home for the labourer, the rambler,

 The loved one.

Your food gathered from near and far

Fed so many mouths.

Your hands, baking bread,

Clicking needles, loving gifts for all –

Or giving beauty life on canvas.

Your voice, singing choruses of praise,

Speaking words of comfort

To another soul across the ward…

And once, so long ago,

You heard a choir of angels sing,

As you wearied not in well doing –

His promise that some day you would reap

The blossom you have sown.

Many daughters have done virtuously,

But you have excelled them all.

Elizabeth Burke

A Young Girl in Iran Faces Execution

June 26, 2014

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I saw this headline some days ago in a national newspaper “Child bride who killed abusive husband to be executed.” A young girl in Iran, younger than my own daughters, faces execution…

Somehow this horrific story has been on my mind ever since. This morning while driving I was saddened to see a lovely hare lying dead on the road – totally unrelated but again the issue of death struck me and that story filled my mind once more in the early morning.

Animals die and it is sad – but animals, the innocent members of the Lord’s creation have no sin and are not held accountable for eternity in the way that human beings are.

I pray for Rzieh Ebrahimi (also known as ‘Maryam’) who was forced to marry at 14, became a mother at 15 and after years of terrible abuse killed her husband at 17.

Under Iranian law the minimum age of responsibility is 15 for boys and strangely – 9 for girls, while girls can marry at 13 and boys at 15.

Such laws are unthinkable in our society and the practice of forced marriage which is prevalent in so many Islamic countries is alien to us, as is Iran’s policy of executing children, making it the world’s highest offender in this regard.

Most of those young offenders who are executed are young women who suffer terrible abuse within forced under-age marriages and who turn to violence to escape their circumstances. In this and other parts of the world young women have even been known to set themselves on fire in abusive situations.

I belong to a much older generation and yet I grew up in circumstances as remote from those in Iran as it is possible to be. How horrific it must be to be born into a country (particularly if you are female) where forced marriage, abuse and unjust laws are the order of the day, all in the name of tradition and a religion whose ‘holy’ book outlines how your wife is to be beaten.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)

Free from unjust laws, free from sin, free to serve Him with a joyful heart in a realm where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for we are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3v28&29)

May the Lord be with the tiny minority of Christians who live in societies like Iran and Saudi Arabia and may He bless, strengthen and protect those who labour for the gospel under highly dangerous circumstances – and may He send more labourers into this vast harvest.

This day I pray for Maryam who may be about to face a horrific death, that somehow the Lord will intervene, for it is not His will that she should perish in such a manner. (2Peter 3v9)

Iran is a signatory to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child but Sharia Law at all times takes precedence in this society.

One of the last headlines I read recently proclaimed: “Iranian Child Bride at Imminent Risk of Execution.”

Even now, as I write, Maryam could be being led away…

I would ask anyone reading this to pray for this and indeed other similar situations which have never reached the public eye… yet the Lord knows about those involved, loves them and gave His very Self for them, for “His eye seeth every precious thing.” (Job 28v10)

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Saying Goodbye to “Wish Wish” – a Faithful Loving Friend

October 21, 2013

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I loved her very much, my faithful feline friend whom we named “Wish Wish” at a time when my children were much younger than they are today. Somehow the last few weeks represented a difficult landmark in my life for many reasons and her passing was a symbol of how I felt at the time…

I found Wish Wish abandoned around fifteen years ago as she lay breathing her last amongst other little siblings who lay dead around her. Gently I lifted her and carried her indoors to the heat of the kitchen. For the first few weeks I fed her like a baby. Every few hours night and day she took sustenance from a little dropper until at last she had grown into a beautiful larger kitten. She rewarded us so much for saving her life by being one of the most affectionate pets I have ever known. She would go for a walk with us out the back lane like a little puppy running ahead and indeed she had a long and happy life – but I felt truly bereaved when she died. Driving home from a hospital visit one night after her death I felt the pain of losing her and sorrow deep within my heart.

Wish Wish was no ordinary cat; she knew how to open doors by reaching up to put the handle down, she let us know her needs too, but most of all she was there for me, showing love in most extraordinary ways. Two years ago when my father passed away and I had received other bad news, I sat crying in the chair one night when suddenly I heard her jump on a high stool beside me and then felt her face close to mine, her green eyes staring into mine, her whiskers softly brush off me and then she licked my face. I believe that she knew exactly how I felt.

Wish Wish was brought to the vet some weeks ago where an x-ray revealed a large growth in her stomach. In our dying, polluted and diseased world animals too are suffering…

How I long for that day when there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev.21v1; Isaiah 65v17) – and pain, sorrow, death and crying shall be no more. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes…” (Rev.21v4)

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8v22) Surely it is as if all of creation is literally in the pains of childbirth, waiting to be delivered from the burden of the curse.

Pain, disease, violence on the earth, dying and sorrow were not how it was meant to be… but thank God that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8v2)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8v28)

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8v18)

Sometimes we may feel a strange loneliness in our sorrow, even when surrounded by loved ones… but we shouldn’t, for “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24)

As I was confronted with some very distressing events in my life just recently, many verses from Romans 8 have comforted me… “As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8v36-39)

With these precious promises and multitudes more let us encourage one another as we cast our burdens upon He who loved us and gave Himself for us, for “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8v31)

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Man Dies on His 107th Birthday! On Longevity and the Christian Life

March 17, 2011

When I heard that Jacob Marshall, an elderly man I knew who lived close to my old homeplace in Northern Ireland died recently on his 107th birthday, I started to think about the fact that longevity is very often synonymous with leading a Christian life.

Of course this is not always the case but I have noticed that those who have truly committed their lives to the Lord and follow in His paths very often do live longer. There are many reasons why this may be so – not least the fact that committed Christians live healthier lives. They regard their bodies as the “Temple of the Holy Ghost” (1Cor. 3v16) which means that they don’t drink themselves to oblivion, they don’t do drugs and they don’t smoke. With regard to food intake, this verse is practised in their daily lives… “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor. 10v31). 

They are also not as likely to suffer from depression; a factor which is said to actually shorten an individual’s lifespan – even if they don’t resort to suicide. They have a reason to live – and an assurance in death; they have that unspeakable joy which only their Saviour can impart and they are generally happier and healthier in their minds too, for they “are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able” to separate them “from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

When we live as peacefully as we can with our fellowmen (Romans 12v18); bearing no grudges, in the knowledge that God is the Final Judge Who some day will see to it that justice is done, it is surely better for our own well-being in the long run. Jesus’ example to us of “rendering not evil for evil” (1Thess. 5v15) is a healthy one for our physical and emotional well-being.

Of course Christians can (and do) sometimes die when they are quite young and Jesus was a prime example of this. All across the world at this moment are those followers of the Lord Jesus who are being persecuted for their faith, flung into prison, starved and tortured; such treatment very often leads to early death. And of course, Christians too live in a world which is polluted by disease of one sort or another and nuclear fall-out which results in cancer, while accidents of all types are universal.

Still, God is sovereign and when we repent, committing our lives to Him, we can rest assured that He will give us the grace to live our lives out to His glory whether they are short and sweet – or exceptionally long, like Jacob Marshall’s – or Methuselah’s!

I will close with a verse of a poem which my maternal grandfather often recited to my mother when she was a child…

“Be good sweet maid, and let who will be clever;

Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long,

And so make life, death, and that vast Forever

One grand sweet song.”

 

The above is one of the many variations of a verse from Charles Kingsley’s poem, “A Farewell.” Surely this is God’s will for the remainder of my life, whatever it consists of… that I will allow Him to work in and through me, to sanctify me to the end that my life, death, and ‘that vast Forever’ are ‘one grand sweet song?’

“Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8)

February 24, 2011

A few days before the end of 2010 my father took a severe stroke. What a shock that was and how my loved ones have rallied around for the seven weeks (to the very day) that he died! How much we shall miss him – especially my mother; yet I have that assurance in my heart that Dad is with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. On Saturday 19th February as Dad’s body made its last journey down the tree- lined avenue from his home, it was a beautiful day. New baby shoots were pushing their way up through the soil – the promise of another spring of growth and of the warmth of the sun, after winter’s dark cold sorrow. Yes, I cry as I write this, in the knowledge that I shall never see that dear face, or hear his voice on this earth again but I have such joy in serving my father’s risen Saviour who has given me that ‘peace which passes all understanding.’ Now I must go, in His strength, to proclaim His love for all mankind, for I am aware, more than ever of the brevity of life and of the need for souls to be ready for His coming again. I felt privileged to do the reading from 1Thessalonians 4v13-18 at Dad’s funeral service. With trembling hands I opened at this reading which commences with the words… “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  

After the long journeys made to his bedside these past seven weeks, I had been feeling drained and yet the Lord gave me the strength to climb the steps to the lectern, to do this reading. Hundreds of faces stared up – something which would leave me quivering under normal circumstances, as I am a naturally shy person, but I was doing this for the Lord – and His servant, my Dad. Afterwards my three daughters hugged me and I was greeted with the words: “Grandad would have been so proud of you.”

The two hymns which rang out that day were: “My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine” by W.R. Featherston and “Jesus the Name high over all” by Charles Wesley. I love the final verse of “My Jesus I love thee…”

“In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And I love the final verse of “Jesus the Name high over all…”

“Happy, if with my final breath

I might but gasp His name,

Preach Him to all, and cry in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Outside the church another sea of faces greeted me; some I had not seen since childhood and scarcely knew now. Hands shook mine, old acquaintances embraced me and a world of people from another era of my life floated around. It was almost surreal; I walked as if in a dream with my loved ones behind the funeral cortège, down the village street where I had walked as a child from school. Later at the ‘Orchard cemetery,’ in a lovely rural setting just outside the village of Richhill, my husband and daughters were a comfort as the interment took place. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the sun suddenly came out in full force, shining strongly and triumphantly through the clouds and I felt embraced by its kindly warmth. How I felt the Lord’s strong Presence and reassurance with me at that moment!

That night my eldest daughter had a dream; she wakened and said to me: “Mum, Grandad is alright. I dreamed that he hugged me and told me not to cry. In the dream he was tall, strong and healthy… and so happy. But when he hugged me, it was as if there was something separating us… ”

“Yes love,” I said, “he is alright. I know that.”

And yes, there is something separating us – the last enemy which is death. Perhaps I will face it some day – and maybe not, but this I know…

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4v16-18)

My prayer is that all who read would trust in the precious Name of my Dad’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!

Link to these hymns: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/j/e/mjesusil.htm

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/n/a/jnamhigh.htm

Tell Loved-One, Neighbour, Friend & Foe – Before it is too Late!

November 6, 2010

This week I learned of the death of a friendly lady whom I had once known. I could scarcely believe that I shall never see that dear face again in this life and now I wish that I had said more to her. This experience reminded me of “The Graves,” a poem of seven verses which I wrote in 2004 following the death of an elderly neighbour. Oh Lord, help all those who know you as Saviour to reach precious souls before it is too late. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10v32&33)

 

The Graves

 

One cloudy restless Sabbath Day,

I went in search of where he lay.

So pensively I picked my way,

Past ancient headstones and decay.

*******

Celtic crosses in the mist,

Coloured gravestones, raindrop-kissed,

Crying curlew overhead,

Wooden crosses, unknown dead.

*******

The old, the young, the rich, the poor,

A child, a babe…. a grief to endure;

A nobleman, a pauper, a puritan, a thief:

Death knows no boundary, and nor doth grief.

*******

Who were these within their day,

Whose bodies now lie clothed in clay?

Were they told, or did they see

That Jesus died all souls to free?

*******

And then I thought on the living-dead

For whom His precious blood was shed,

And how I wished that they could be

Joyful, saved, from sin set free.

*******

Oh, how I longed to talk with him,

Before the flickering light grew dim,

But hope had drowned in the Great Forever,

Where land and riches matter never.

*******

So, brother, sister we must go –

Tell loved-one, neighbour, friend and foe,

For how can we so silent be…

If we love the Author of Eternity?

© Elizabeth Burke.