FUNERAL FOR KAREN CARTER
I seems strange to be here today in a different role. Usually I try to minister and comfort family and friends of the deceased person. Today I’m part of that family. So the service today may a little different. I haven’t heard of a pastor leading the service of his wife. I remember Pastor John Tweedy, who lost his wife and daughter in a car accident doing the funeral for both. I always thought: How could he do that.
Just like there are 2 sides to a coin, there 2 ways to look at this. On the one side is the natural self of body and soul that determines our feelings and emotions with little hope for the future. Here we weep the loss of our loved one. The other side of the coin represents the spiritual life where we depend on the Lord to help us through difficult times like this. Yes. We weep for the loss of a loved one but knowing that the loss is temporary.“Tears at night bring joy in the morning.”
SCRIPTURE. At a time like this I find that the scriptures offer comfort and strength.
Psalm 91. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.£I will say£ of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 46. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.
OPEN IN PRAYER
In the New Testament, the disciples knew from where their help came. Paul said in:
II.Cor.1:3-4. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in our time of trouble.”
Peter said in: I.Pet.5:6-7. “Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
Jesus Himself said in John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
SOLO BY WENDY
Today also I would say is a time of remembering. I have often told people that funerals are bitter sweet (because they are). They are bitter because you have lost a good friend – they are sweet because you have so many memories that you can share. I am thankful God has made us with the capacity to remember. Think of the good times, the funny times, the experiences and yes the bad times too.
Life is unpredictable. We don’t even know what will happen tonight, much less next week or next year. The truth is that no one can predict the future. God made us so that we can have relationships with one another and when that relationship is lost we feel pain.
Jesus said: “In this life you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” He didn’t say we may have or we might have but that we will have trouble.
Ecc.3:11. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Job19:25. “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth…I myself will see Him with my own eyes.” With all that Job went through- the loss of all his wealth and his family (10 sons) he never lost hope.
But this life is not all there is. But we have hope. When it comes to the Lord Himself and His future for us, there cannot be—and never will be—any disappointment. The world defines hope as something we would like to happen, but God’s hope is something guaranteed to happen. It is a sure and certain hope. His kind of hope does not disappoint. But when life itself disappoints you, you’ll find Jesus at the intersection ready to reassure and redirect you. Heb.6:19. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Rom.5:3-5. “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.”
II.Cor.4:16-18. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” I watched Karen waste away gradually but she never lost hope. She focused on the eternal glory that she knew was ahead. I’m reminded of that song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Rom.15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
ABOVE ALL. When Karen first heard this song, she said it would be good song to sing during communion. We did.
HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD
LET ME GIVE YOU THE READER’S DIGEST VERSION. As some of you know, we met on Friday the 13th of October 1961. We married on Sept.6, 1963. We had a pretty routine marriage, ups and downs for the first 20 years. I still don’t know how Karen put up with me for that long. I was not easy to live with. I was a workaholic, arrogant, self-centred, heavy drinker. Then we came to know the Lord. Karen was a quiet person who never complained about anything. But when she did speak it hit home. I believe the Lord prompted her to say a word that struck my heart. I used to come home from work and go to the cupboard, get the bottle out and pour a drink. I was sitting watching the news one night and Karen was upset and came saying” Supper’s ready.” I said I just needed one more drink. She looked right at me and asked: “Do you really need it?” I said “Yes” That was when I realized I had a problem. Shortly after that our lives began to change for the better. He had us in the right place at the right time for that change to occur.
Acts 17:26. “…He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
Jer.29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It gave us a different perspective on life. I know we had a love for each other before that time but after we accepted the Lord that love grew stronger each day. I believe every move we made was directed by the Lord unbeknown to us at the time. From Erin to Alton, back to Erin, to Grand Valley and now finally to Fergus. As I look back now, I can see the Lord’s hand directing every move and the purpose for each. Each move was a new chapter in our lives.
This last move was the most significant. God was preparing us for what was about to happen. All the suffering Karen endured over the past 8 years drew us closer together and closer to the Lord. I believe that when we go through difficult times whether it be sickness, failure, disappointments, loss, we can become bitter or can become better. With us, the Lord made it and us so much better. In the Greek language, there are 3 types of love. Aros, Phileo and Agape, each one is progressively deeper. I know that we experienced all three- the first as unbelievers-a superficial love. I seldom told Karen that I loved her. I tried to show her. But I never heard the word love at home. Aros; then as new Christians- our love began to grow deeper- Phileo; then through the suffering and pain-Agape. that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope
CONCLUSION. John 14:1-6. “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.
The first is that peace is promised. Notice the words “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me”.
Yes, I know that today is a day of sadness, yet even in the midst of this you can have peace. Why? Because we have hope – we believe. We believe that even in the midst of the storm – even in the valley of the shadow of death there can be a peace that passes all understanding – because we know that God is with us. The 23rd Psalm says that too. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” He is here. He is present. Believe in Him – Trust in Him and God will grant you his perfect peace.
John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.”
God has prepared a place for us. Did you notice that in John 14, it says; “I go to prepare a place for you.”
What has He Prepared? 1) A place with no more sorrow or crying. No more chemo, no more dialysis, no more prescriptions and medications.
Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” That’s the hope that we have.
I.Cor.15:9. “If only for this life we have hope, we are to be pitied more than all men.” If there is no life after death, no heaven, no promise of a better world- then life is empty, hopeless, without meaning or purpose.
God has prepared a way for us to get there.
Everyone wants to go to heaven, some just don’t know the way. Thomas said: Lord we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way? Have you ever asked that question? “How do I get to heaven?”
Jesus answered in v.6. “Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.”
Acts 4:12. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
There might be some of you today that have never given thought to your eternal future, but this morning you are asking yourself where would I go if I were to leave this world?
I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.
I remember speaking to someone about heaven and they said they couldn’t believe in heaven because no one has ever gone to heaven and come back to tell them what it was like. I didn’t know what to say at the time. I heard a story about a Christian doctor who was making a house call to a dying Christian patient. The patient asked the doctor what heaven was going to be like. He too was at a loss for words when he heard a scratching at the door. He opened it and bounding in was his dog that he often took on house calls. He told his patient: My dog has never been here before, didn’t know what it was like, but he knew his master was here and that was all he needed. In the same way, we may not know all there will be in Heaven but we do know that our Lord and Saviour is there and we will see Him face to face.
Are you ready? For Karen- that’s all she had to know and that’s what she was looking forward to. When she took her last breathe, she would be in the presence of Jesus. How can we be sure?
Rom.10:9. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Eph.2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not of yourselves. It is a gift of God- not of works so that no one can boast.” When someone gives you a gift, its free, no cost no obligation. Accept it or reject it. Its your choice.
The bible is a book of prophecies predicting the future. The birth of Christ was predicted- how where and when he was to born. His death and resurrection were predicted – how when and where many times. The only prophecy not yet fulfilled is that Jesus is coming back. Many people celebrate Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But what about His return? Look around- the signs are all here- His return for His church is imminent.
I.Thess.4:13-18. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus . those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words.”
I believe that The Lord will soon come again. As you look at the condition of the world today, you can see all the signs of His return, He could come at any time. Karen has been cremated. She will sit on the cabinet inside our front door. If I hear the trumpet call I will watch her go to be with the Lord in the air (the dead in Christ will rise first) then I will follow (those who are left will be caught up together with them in the air) I will right behind her.
If I die before the Lord returns, I will be cremated and we will both be buried together so when the Lord comes we will rise together. Just as in life here we did almost everything together, we will still travel to heaven together. What a day that will be.
SONG BY DEBBIE HAZZARD