Helen passed the 97th anniversary of her birth and then changed her address.
She now lives in heaven for 10,000 times 10,000 years and more, unaffected by earthly ailments and concerns. Whilst all who knew her well thought she had lived a long life, retaining full mental capacity, 97 earth years won’t even be a distant memory in heaven. Will there be any memory of life on earth?
Here’s a comforting thought for those who are crumbling around the edges: there are no false teeth, pacemakers or wheelie walkers in heaven. Only happiness enjoyed with God together with a multitude of fellow believers - plus babies and children - that no man can count, until the end of endless time.
We attended Helen’s funeral, a spiritual celebration of her life which was clearly enjoyed by all.
A clergyman presided at the service, recorded hymns were strongly played over the PA system, a eulogy was delivered about select aspects of her life, Bible readings were presented and prayers were prayed.
Very different from an unspiritual atheistic service invariably presided over by an unbelieving funeral celebrant when songs of the world are played, someone may say he’ll have a beer with the deceased the next time they meet, and hymns, Bible readings and prayers are noticeably absent.
Because of the earnestness and spirituality of the service where a capably presented tender message of hope and a stellar future is conveyed from the Bible, great infusing warm comfort always flows from a Christian funeral service.
The Order of Service
After the playing of ‘Abide With Me’ (Helen’s choice) there was a brief welcome and introduction by the Reverend Joe.
One of her daughters then delivered an interesting eulogy recounting significant details of Helen’s life, which had obviously involved some diligent research. I don’t think I have ever attended a funeral without learning something new about the deceased or their life which I had not previously known. And so it was with Helen, she and I having lived geographically distant and apart for many years.
Then followed an equally interesting slide show of her life spanning early days through to great-grandmother-hood, a ‘Time of Reflection’ prepared by a granddaughter. This was displayed on two elevated screens on the front wall accompanied by a rendition of 'The Prayer’ sung by priests with rich baritone voices, although this was not a Catholic service.
Bible passages were then read followed by a gentle but appropriately forthright Biblically based address by the Reverend Joe from the church where the ‘eulogy presenter’ and husband attend. The LORD’s Prayer and a personal spontaneous prayer were delivered by one of Helen’s eight grandchildren (a grandson) which was then followed by the Committal and Blessing.
The attendees slowly filed out of the modern chapel within the funeral home premises as ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ was softly played as Farewell Music. Whilst not a Christian song, almost all of it is sung in Italian and so was probably unknown by most of us. It seemed admirably suitable for the occasion.
Three Bible passages were suggested by the Reverend Joe from which I chose to read Psalm 23 and a short portion of the 1st letter of Peter, both of which were just right for Mum’s departure, she having known me the whole of my life.
What does our faith achieve?
Is there a blessing for having faith in God even if we have recognised the truth? What does faith achieve: is there any point or purpose: is there some benefit for both having it and displaying it?
Bottom line? We are: receiving the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls. (1 Peter chapter 1 verse 9) as we have: taken off our old self…and put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians chapter 3 verses 9/10).
Shockingly, the person who never experiences this renewal never receives that salvation but instead experiences endless lonely total destruction separated from the Almighty ‘till the end of time. Is it any wonder that the good news about Jesus and His winning of salvation for us is described as the: good news of God? He urges us to: repent and believe that good news. (Mark chapter 1 verse 14/15).
A work in progress
The process of renewal referred to here is a lifelong work in progress which does not magically instantly and totally happen at conversion, so regrettably we still make too many mistakes. If you’re a husband reading this, just ask your wife whether you have yet achieved perfection and be guided by her well-targeted reply.
Those who choose to ignore God for the whole of their lives remain: alienated from Him as His enemies in your minds, never having been reconciled to Him (Colossians chapter 1 verses 21/22), which ultimately results in unending total loss, which for that person is catastrophic devastatingly bad news.
Whether we believe it or not and whether we care about that good news or not, sincere belief in error (or more likely bored indifference about the truth) does not miraculously convert error into truth. Truth is objective, not subjectively what we may believe.
What is offered to the repentant believer is the gift of:
(i) new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead,
(ii) an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven for you, and
(iii) who through faith are shielded by God’s power (1 Peter chapter 1 verses 3-5).
So the most important question is…
Why would anyone ignore the truth of God’s love for us and our infinite worth to Him, and instead prefer the shallow nothingness of the worst possible outcome? That’s madness.
Gavin Lawrie is a retired Barrister and Solicitor from Tweed Heads NSW Australia and author of the book: 'THE EVIDENCE OF EVOLUTION: Uncovering The Faulty Science Of Dawkins' Attack On Creationism'. He is married to Jan with two adult children and they are grandparents.
Gavin Lawrie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/gavin-lawrie.html