By Debra Whittington: Notes from the Church Lady
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:9 We serve an awesome God who is able to do the impossible if we only turn everything over to Him. My life last week is a testimony to the Lord as He took my broken heart and replaced it with one of joy. In this week’s column I want to share the joy that can be ours when we fulfill our promises. Based on past experiences, keeping those promises can be difficult, but bring about peace when completed.
As I wrote last week’s column, I was preparing to accompany Grandma to Utah. I struggled with the thought of the long, hard trip to take her to the final resting place next to Grandpa. Although I was only nine years old when Grandpa died, the experience is permanently etched in my mind.
Even as an adult, I remember his funeral with the emotions of a small child.
I remember the long trip to Utah with snow piled high on both sides of the road. I remember seeing Grandpa in his casket and being told to say my goodbyes, as I would never see him again (at least not on this earth). I remember wishing that Grandpa would open his eyes and hold me like he always did. I remember holding a little stuffed animal tightly during the funeral until my hands and arms ached. At the cemetery, I remember the intense cold as snow fell on his casket and the mound of flowers surrounding it.
Finally, I remember telling my parents that I couldn’t leave Grandpa there all alone. Even though I was so cold, I couldn’t leave my beloved Grandpa there forever. Sobbing uncontrollably, my parents took my hands and firmly led me back to the waiting car. All the way back to my cousin’s house and even the rest of the day, I refused to be consoled as my young life seemed to be at an end.
Returning home after the funeral, I found it difficult to deal with Grandpa’s passing as I longed for him to come back home where he belonged. Grandma had a difficult time and for almost a year I stayed with her much of the time so she wouldn’t be alone.
Now, here I was faced with another trip to Utah. At first, I thought we should bury her in Artesia where she lived for over 50 years. Then, I thought of how she always said she wanted to be buried by Grandpa and asked us to promise that we would carry out her wishes.
Mark and I had just studied the life of Joseph in Genesis and his promise to take his father back to Israel to be buried next to his wife, Leah: “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying place.
There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.” Genesis 49:1, 29-31; 50:4-6
Taking Grandma back to Utah fulfilled a promise made so many years ago and even though she wasn’t here to know about it, I did. She belonged next to Grandpa, not in Artesia. Knowing that I kept that promise gave me peace. It was the beginning of many wondrous things the Lord did during the week. I will continue my testimony in next week’s column.