This is what I witnessed last night in Roxboro, NC.
This is the funeral of Becky Lynn Black, known to me and many others as simply “Mama B.” The pallbearers are carrying a simple poplar box. Its simplicity was beautiful. Just like Mama B. As they carried her coffin down that cemetery road toward the gravesite, I was filled with many emotions.
For the fact that she was with Jesus. Every time I pray to Jesus and the Father now, I know that Becky is with them…sitting at their feet. What a joy! She had finished her course and kept the faith…just like she desired to do.
There was a deep sense of sadness mixed with joy in my heart. I stood at the gravesite and I could like down the hill and see Woody and Cindi Jacobs’ house. It was there that Becky would host “Ethiopia Training Sessions.” No more Mama B. That thought hit my stomach so hard that I thought I would double over. But, that could not happen. She would not want that! She wanted us to rejoice at her “home going,” so that’s what I would do. I watched Dave. He was arm and arm with two of his “daughters” in Christ. He was resolute to do the same. I saw the determination in his eyes (hold it together Dave…I could almost hear the words of Becky whispering to Dave and all of us). And so we did. I saw no displays of overt wailing or moaning. There were some soft “sniffs” and some dabs to the cheeks with a tissue, but these were tears of longing for her.
I felt a strong sense of knowing what life was all about as I watched that coffin come down that little cemetery road. I understand Lord! I understand that this is how it should be. We truly live by giving everything we’ve got for you and for your kingdom. We are broken bread and poured out wine for you (as Oswald Chambers says). That’s how Mama B lived and thus, she followed her Savior in suffering and fighting the good fight and so must we.
All weekend, I was surrounded by death. A dear friend lost his mother. I presided over the funeral of my great-uncle. Another dear friend’s father is at Baptist Hospital facing many difficulties. Mama B is gone. Oh, my heart hearts. It grieves and it spins.
I am comforted by God’s word through a story I heard recently. I shared this at the funeral of my great-uncle on Saturday. Here is what I shared…
A couple of weeks ago while listening to Dr. David Jeremiah on the radio and he told a story that touched me. I looked up the man’s name he spoke of in his story. He quoted a man named, Donald Barnhouse.
It seems Mr. Barnhouse was on the way home from the funeral of his wife and he was trying to think of some way of comforting his children. Just then a huge moving van passed by their car and its shadow swept over them. Instantly, Mr. Barnouse asked, “Children, would you rather be run over by a truck or by its shadow?” The children instantly replied, “By its shadow daddy…its shadow!” To which Mr. Barnhouse replied, “Children, 2,000 years ago the truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus Christ… but your mommy only had to pass through its shadow!”
David the Psalmist knew this all too well, when he penned the words of the 23rd Psalm in verse 4, when he said:
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me… Psalm 23:4;
And so we walk through this valley of the SHADOW of death. And Jesus says, have no fear. I am with you! How can he say this? Because He took the truck, so that we get the shadow. For the believer, the valley of death is but a shadow…not the truck!
You see, God created us for His own glory. He created mankind to be with Him. We exist for God’s glory and He desired our companionship so much that even in the Garden of Eden, He walked with man in the cool of the day. But, man sinned and thus we’re now separated from God our Creator…our Heavenly Father.
You know because of the sin, Adam and Eve were removed from paradise and their face to face fellowship with God was interrupted. But, thanks be to God! He sent Jesus Christ, His own Son to this earth to bring us back into right relationship with the Father. Jesus died to give us that right. But, in order for you or for me to be made right, we must repent of our sins and confess that Jesus is Lord. Doing so makes death a valley that’s only a shadow.
Are you ready to meet Jesus? Is He your Lord? Is He the one to whom you cling for your salvation?
Listen carefully. Times like these stop us dead in our tracks. We’re not normally here at this time of day in church. We’re doing something else. And yet, death as brought us here. We are staring death in the face. And if you know Jesus…there is no fear in staring death in the eyes. For the believer in Christ, death has no hold on you. But, if you don’t know Him as your Lord, then death will not only take hold of you one day…it can destroy your soul.
But, I thank God today that for the believer…for the Christian…for the follower and disciple of Christ we can proclaim the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15:
1 Corinthians 15:55-58
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Yes, thanks be to God, there is no sting in death for the believer. We win! Because Satan has been defeated… So death is simply a passageway for the believer from this life to the next. We’re only passing through a shadow, because death has been defeated. Oh thanks be to God! For those who know Christ…they can stare death in the face…they can bypass the truck…and walk only through the shadow. For…
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For Thou art with me. Psalm 23:1-4a
Becky walked through the SHADOW and now she is with the Lord! Praise His Holy name!!
So we rejoice! As we look over Dave’s shoulder at her body encased in that poplar box, we know she is not there. For precious in the sight of the Lord are the death of his saints. Because they miss the truck! Hallelujah!