The service was a beautiful celebration of life and hope, even in the midst of temporal loss.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
There was music, there were stories, tears, even laughter. Of course there were praise and worship, prayer and Scripture.
Three members of Highstrung String Quartet accompanied the music with haunting beauty. Joel Harris sang Goodbye, Mama after a heartfelt message from his older brother, Josh, who spoke of how deep and rich and all-encompassing (“ferocious”) Sono’s love was, for her children. There were remembrances that bring me to tears, thinking on them, even as I smile in recollection. I can’t put titles to all the music; nor can I name everyone who spoke, together building a picture of a woman who lived fully and… yes, “abundantly,” that is what the Bible calls it. She embraced the roles of helpmeet and mother, she invested herself in the lives of her children, and others. She was passionate about life and protecting innocent life, and used her gifts wisely and with a generous heart.
She poured out her life for the Lord. She lived… here is something I have been stabbing at for years, but never really managing. She lived deliberately. The picture emerged as the service went on, memory after memory, of a woman who once was dead in her trespasses and sins, but at age 17 was adopted into the family of God, trusting in Jesus Christ as her Savior, covered by His blood and righteousness.
For years I have been pondering what it means to live life deliberately, on purpose, but without the courage or commitment to buckle down and do it. Sono showed that it can be done, but it takes dedication. It takes energy, even when you don’t have the physical strength, and focus, the kind of focus where you keep your eyes on the Lord, living by faith.
Focus. It sounds so simple. It seems so impossible. I am so distractible. *sigh* At least now I’ve come to realize how much it impedes me (those who know me well probably know better than I do how easily I’m distracted) I can make it a matter of prayer. Of focus. One step forward, even though so often two steps back follow? Get back up, and keep walking, and lean on the Lord, for it’s His strength and not mine that can fight this battle and succeed.
Rather than asking, “Why?” we should instead bless God for giving us the time we had with (Sono), was one of the messages spoken today. And a curious thought sprung to my mind. Sono might have lived to an old age, beside her husband. Alternatively, she might have perished instantly in a car accident, taken away without a chance to say goodbye. Instead, the Lord chose to take her in the way He did; He gave her time to spend deliberately, knowing that soon she would be going Home, and so perhaps even more intensely focused than she had been in everyday life. She spent her last days surrounded by friends and family, affirming love and shared hope, saying the important things, not a moment wasted.
Proverbs 31 sums up her life so well.Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her. “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.
In a way, the memorial was not just a celebration, but a challenge to those of us she has mentored over the years.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Gal. 6:9)
I have let myself lose heart, more than once; slid back into “just going with the flow” or sometimes even just going through the motions. Up to the mountaintop, down into the valley, too often in the doldrums. But really, there is no time to waste. We never know when we will be called to give an accounting for the life given us.
Let us do our best to make it a good one.