Last Friday, my dear friend Liz went home to be with Jesus. Today was her funeral. I thought I was going to be okay, I really was, until I saw her body in the casket.
She was dressed in white, like a wedding: her cancer-shaved head covered in her favorite wig; her makeup flawless; her jewelry glowed. She had an embroidered handkerchief tucked in her hands. You could not tell she had ever undergone years of cancer and chemotherapy and radiation and surgery.
But that was not Liz. That was a waxwork, a shell, a husk of the woman I loved so dearly. And I cried because it was at that moment I realized she was really gone. No more watching hockey games with my grandma. No more Olive Garden lunches after church. No more seeing her rejoicing Sunday mornings, radiant in a pink dress with fabulous jewelry. No more hearing Liz talk about Jesus. No more hearing her pray. My sister was gone. And I went and cried on Mum's shoulder and tried to carry on.
The service was lovely. Many friends came up to talk about Liz's strength, her infectious joy, her love of life and living, her infatuation with Jesus. Pastor Phil gave a beautiful gospel centered homily, reminding us all 1) Liz lived and died in the arms of Jesus 2) our hope is her hope 3) there is salvation for all who believe. I had long been praying that Jesus would be evident in Liz's funeral and I know for a fact that He was.
They showed a video that one of the young men had put together in the spring about Liz's walk through the trial of cancer. And there she was! Her voice and face and mannerisms and story alive for all to see. And I cried more realizing that this was the last time I would see my friend. But oh! What a way to remember her. She described how she hung on God through her cancer and how He carried her over the River Jordan. How could I be so sad? Liz was finally where she had longed to be.
When she was ill, two weeks ago, I brought her a copy of a prayer from the Valley of Vision to encourage her. Pastor Daniel even read it at her grave site! I wanted it to help Liz; God used it today to help me.
Its called "Heaven and Earth"
I live here as a fish in a vessel of water,
only enough to keep me alive,
But in heaven I shall swim in the ocean.
Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing,
But there I shall have sweet and fresh gales;
Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness,
a warm ray to keep me from freezing;
Yonder I shall live in light and warmth for ever.
Here I can have the world,
There I shall have thee in Christ;
Here is a life of longing and prayer,
There is assurance without suspicion,
asking without refusal;
Here are gross comforts, more burden
There is joy without sorrow,
comfort without suffering,
love without inconstancy,
rest without weariness.
Give me to know that heaven is all love,
where the eye affects the heart,
and the continual viewing of thy beauty
keeps the soul in continual transports
Give me to know that heaven is all peace,
where error, pride, rebellion, passion
raise no head.
Give me to know that heaven is all joy,
the end of believing, fasting, praying,
mourning, humbling, watching,
And lead me to it soon.