[I spoke these words at the graveside service]
My mother passed away June 6, 2011. Louise Billups was 85 years old. For those of us who knew her, we lost a great treasure and a walking, breathing example of love, caring, and kindness, not only to her family and friends, but even to strangers.
I remember the time about three years ago in August, Mom and her husband Marion were riding back from town and saw a poor elderly man pushing his delapidated bicycle loaded down with all his worldly possessions up Whetstone Hill on Highway 60. She said, “We gotta help him.” So they went home and returned fifteen minutes later with a quart of good old homemade southern sweet iced tea and a sandwich for the man. That was my Mom.
There’s an old proverb in the Bible: “It is better to be in the house of mourning than the house of mirth and laughter.”
I’ve often wondered why? Because when a loved one passes away, we mourn for them. Our hearts become broken. The Bible also states that God is near to them of a broken heart. He is that invisible Spirit of Love that penetrates the cracks of our broken hearts and heals us and helps us. God can only get closer to us if we are humbled.
And a death of a loved one humbles us. And so God is near.
We are gathered here now to pay our last respects to a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, a dear and kind friend, and most important, to our spiritual sister in Christ. And spiritual is the key. For the loved one that we all now mourn was a kind and loving spirit who inhabited this earthly body laying before us.
But this today is not the end. The Holy Scriptures says that we shall see her again–not in this old body but in a new, wonderful, everlasting spiritual body that will look like her in her vibrant prime.
We will see her again, for Christ has promised a new body for his followers upon His return to rule this earth for a thousand years. And so, let us take solace that her present pain and suffering has at last ended and her spirit now rests in God’s bosom. Without this truth, we wander around lost in not only sadness for this departed soul but in the solemn inevitability of our own mortality. Our resurrection with Christ upon His return is our only hope to escape the dusty tombs of oblivion.
But now today, we all have lost a priceless treasure in her departure, and that is Christ’s spirit of love actually walking around in another human being. That was my mother and spiritual sister in Christ.
My mom left us here on earth a few days ago. Her spirit went back to the Father who created her long ago. All that remains now lying here is her earthly body, a temporary vessel that God provided her to love through. Mom manifested the love of Christ by giving all to others.
And yet we can’t help but mourn the passing of this dear one, my very own mother, the vessel God used to usher in my entrance into this cruel old world. And she nourished me on her knee with warmth and food and milk and ran with me through the grass and held my hand as I grew up. And most importantly, she fed me the milk of God’s word which nourished my embryonic spirit within me when I was just a little boy.
And that Word she shared with me stayed with me. “Train up a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I strayed in my youth far from the Lord, but those words she had shared about Him were like a fish line and hook in my jaw that the Great Heavenly Fisherman held and kept reeling me into His boat, slowly but surely.
That was the kind of mother I was blessed with, who never gave up on me, even as I squandered my youth on drink and smoke. But she was always there to encourage me. For her testimony was such that on the very hour that I came into this world in that hospital in Long Beach, she had a vision from God that her son would serve Him.
I am her lasting legacy, for we share the same light and same truth: That there is but one God. That the Great Spirit of Love, the Creator of heaven and earth, came down and walked among us and sacrificed that vessel so that we all could be redeemed from the wasted wreckage of a sinful life… She knew God by His original Hebrew name–Yahweh–that in His name is power and healing and answers to prayer…that He is returning to this earth bodily to establish His government where He, the Christ, will rule and reign in the Kingdom of God, literally here on earth…that He is coming soon, after Satan sets up a counterfeit one world government…and then, the good news, Christ returns and begins His reign over all earth…
These and many more things my mom believed, and I will miss those hours of fellowship studying the Word together….But now we must put her body back into the earth from whence it came. But we are not burying her, for she is not here; she is a spirit now at total peace with her Father.
So help us, Father, through this time of passing. I pray not for my mother, for she is with you. Instead, I pray for all of us who are still on our journey back to You. Be with us, O God. Help us, for we are weak and need your strength. Give us all eyes to see and ears to hear your truth. Thank you. We ask in your name, Amen.