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Faithlife

Effie Poirier Funeral

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We are here together this morning for a variety of reasons.  For Emery and the girls especially this is a heart wrenching exercise on top of the last few weeks of intense pain and the emotional exhaustion that comes from looking down the road toward the end.  The days to follow will be no easier.  Although they hold healing and the lessening of pain, they will reveal an emptiness with the constant reminders of the loss that they suffer today.  Others of you mourn Effie’s passing as you have lost a friend.  Numbers are here today simply to provide a presence.  You don’t know what to say, . words are clumsy and awkward and like me, you fear saying the wrong thing, so you’ve come hoping that your person could provide some support, some help.  Some of you today have strong faith in God beyond the question that we all ask when these things occur.  Why?  You’ve been praying for the family, praying that God would provide grace and help for those who mourn and maybe an answer of sorts to that question.  There are others here today perhaps who have no personal belief in God, this is an exercise that you are willing to endure because of your love for the family, and that’s wonderful.  But you’d rather be somewhere else because this kind of thing reminds you that every one of us will have to sort out the meaning of life against the inescapable reality of death.

It’s a pretty short experience – it was for Effie.  That’s part of the tragedy – we all thought she’d be here longer.  But time passes all too quickly whether we are healthy and live long lives or we find our already brief experience cut unexpectedly short by sickness.

" Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins." (James 4:13-17, NIV) [1]

Most of us expect that we will be around a year from now – two years from now, but we never know really, do we.  I would ask you today what hope is it that you hold that makes you feel that there will be time for you to do this or that or to experience this or that?

James says that God hold it all in His hands.  Every breath, every second is a gift from Him, the Creator and Sustainer of life.

“ . . . you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I have known Effie for a very brief time.  In that time she has made a wonderful impression on my life.  I would have to say that most specifically that impression has come as I watched her face the news of her sickness and the realization that her days were numbered.  I never saw her in her weaker moments and I am sure that she had them.  I am sure that like all parents, she felt a necessity to be strong for Emery and the girls.  But I never saw her flinch.  I never heard her complain.  In her labored words, I never once detected any feeling that she had somehow been cheated or treated unfairly somehow, that life owed her anything else.

You see we don’t change our lives by complaining about what is not, we make a difference by accepting what is and learning to allow God to direct our experience on this earth according to His pleasure.  I believe that Effie knew this to be true in her heart.

I had a brief time alone with her before the morphine clouded her mind.  Her breathing was labored and robbed her of the ability to respond with much more than a nod.  I asked her if she had trusted Christ in a personal way as her Savior.  She nodded.

It’s a simple question and a simple answer.  I was asking her if she had accepted the fact that she like all of us was a sinner and needed God’s forgiveness.

The Bible says:

 

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23, NIV) [2]

And without that forgiveness, we have no hope of seeing God or those who have passed on before us

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23, NIV) [3]

I asked her if everything was OK – big nod.  I knew that was the case, the answer was no surprise to me.  You see, forgiveness shows in a person’s life, if it has been experienced.  A forgiven person knows how to forgive others.  A person who truly knows God’s love knows how to love others in His Name.  Going to church won’t do that for you.  It is something that happens when an individual reaches out themselves to embrace the sacrifice that Christ made for you and for me on Calvary’s cross.

 

"But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”" (Romans 10:8-13, NIV) [4]

It was no surprise to me either because of the peace that Effie carried into her sickness.  I’ve watched people die who have no hope and I have seen fear and bitterness and darkness.  Not so here.  There was a supernatural peace about her and the others who shared her hope.  Peace doesn’t mean there was no pain.

The crosses on this platform remind us that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Bible calls Him, laid down his life willingly but he suffered a cruel and painful death for you and for me.  So that we could know His peace.

 

So our prayers today for the family, for the friends, for those who rest in faith today and those who struggle to find it are that you would find Him and that He would bring a new and different perspective to a very brief experience on planet earth in order to prepare you for heaven for ever and ever and ever.  Let me close with this questioning poem today.

   I read of a man who stood to speak

   at the funeral of a friend.

   He referred to the dates on her tombstone

   from the beginning...to the end.

   He noted that first came the date of her birth

   and spoke of the of the following date with tears,

   but he said what mattered most of all

   was the dash between those years.

   For that dash represents all the time

   that she spent alive on earth...

   and now only those who loved her

   know what that little line is worth.

   For it matters not, how much we own;

   the cars....the house...the cash.

   What matters is how we live and love

   and how we spend our dash.

   So think about this long and hard...

   are there things you'd like to change?

   For you never know how much time is left.

  (You could be at  "dash mid-range.")

   If we could just slow down enough

   to consider what's true and real,

   and always try to understand

   the way other people feel.

   And be less quick to anger,

   and show appreciation more

   and love the people in our lives

   like we've never loved before.

   If we treat each other with respect,

   and more often wear a smile...

   remembering that this special dash

   might only last a little while.

   So, when your eulogy's being read

   with your life's actions to rehash...

   would you be proud of the things they say

   about how you spend your dash?


----

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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