On Thursday we attended a funeral/memorial service for a longtime friend and member of our church who had served so very faithfully over the years, especially in ministering to children.
For many decades our friend had taught children in our Sunday School, mostly those who were in nursery or preschool classes. She skillfully planned and led many programs for special days such as Christmas and Easter. In fact, twenty years ago she was part of the first class of members who were honored by our church leadership with a very special leadership award. Many folks were touched by her ministry over the years. She continued to serve faithfully until a few years ago when her health forced her to retire from teaching.
She was also very active in Child Evangelism Fellowship in Lancaster County. For years she taught Good News clubs and participated in CEF events. For a number of years she corrected the CEF correspondence courses that children completed and sent to CEF. Then she helped children online where she was known as Aunt Bea.
When her husband died about twenty years ago she continued serving. Eventually she had to sell her house and she moved in with one of her daughters where she lived until she died. But she was still faithful in attending services, praying and supporting the church, as well as CEF.
Now I serve as financial secretary for our church and often I know more about people's giving habits then I wish that I knew. I knew that she had little income but unlike so many, she faithfully gave to the church right up to her death. In recent months when attendance became a problem she faithfully mailed her tithe to me to be added to the offering. The last one came just days before she died. It reminded me of the widow's mite.
Now, after living that type of life of sacrifice and service, and influencing so many folks for the Lord, you'd expect that she would have a special memorial service with a great response from friends, family and former students. You would expect that many would come and respond to honor her. That would only be proper for a faithful saint who served the Lord in so many ways for decades.
But just the opposite actually happened. Only about 30 - 35 folks were there. This included six family members, a couple of her former Sunday School students, a few folks from her senior adult Sunday School class, and a number of longtime church members who worshipped with her for decades. And her church leadership team was represented by our pastor who led the service and two elders. She had been a member of our church for nearly 60 years. While the service was God honoring as she would have wanted, I was taken back by the lack of support from family, church family and the church leadership team. I expected more and she really deserved much more. But that was all the response she received from her fellow Christians after her death.
However, her important celebration happened last Saturday when the Lord welcomed her into His presence where she will live eternally and receive her real reward. That was the recognition and thanks that she really deserved. This is an event that we should all look forward to, not the praise of men here on this earth. And, in addition, she is released from all of her pain and the problems of this pilgrim life. And that, too, is a great reward.
But as I review this service in my mind, I am reminded that we don't work here for earthly praise and awards. We have been created to bring praise to the Lord. We are His workmanship, created for good works to honor Him. But sometimes, because we are human, our wrong expectations here on earth can leave us disappointed. Unfortunately, our fellow believers are usually not very good at thanking others and honoring them for their service. And that is something that I guess we need to understand and expect. But maybe we each also need to learn to be more thankful and encouraging to others who do faithfully serve.
But I do praise the Lord that our paths have crossed over the years and I am thankful for her faithful service. Oh that others, including myself, would be this faithful in serving the Lord.