We are here this after to pay tribute and give thanks for the life of Judy Housewright. We are also here to face the ultimate question: is this all there is? My answer is going to be “No”.
In Psalm 91
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
In 2 Corinthians 5 we read,
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
It is an illustration that I love to use because I think it conveys the reality of our situation here. Imagine walking through the woods and you hear the sound of children laughing and having a great time. From the splashes you know they are in the pond have a great time. As you get closer you see a pile of clothes that the kids took off on their way to swim. What we have in this urn today is Judy’s “pile of clothes”. She has discarded them so she can enjoy the freshness and joy of the life that God has prepared for her through Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray together. Father, we know we have no idea of the richness and the beauty of life beyond the grave for those who have put their trust in you. However, we would ask that you pull the curtain back just a little so we might be comforted in this time of loss. Draw us close to you, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Judy Housewright was 75 years old when she died July 14th. She was born in La Harpe and this was always her home . . . even though she lived in Florida the last three decades. Judy kept up on the happenings in La Harpe. She was often writing to ask for more information about things she read in the church newsletter.
Judy was a people person. She was interested in the lives of others. She noticed other people. She had a quick wit that stayed with her right up to the end. Even as she was getting ready to be put on the ventilator she was still joking.
She married Richard Housewright and they were happily married for 57 years! Judy loved being active. She enjoyed motorcycle trips with Dick. They loved to camp. And she loved the boat in Florida when they would go out in the Gulf. Judy loved making a house into a home. She liked to keep things looking good. She was always eager to try out new devices or products that could help her to manage and clean her house more effectively. She enjoyed making sure Dick had a good lunch every day. Even when she was using her walker she set it up so she could use it as a tray to help her keep things in order. You have to love that spirit.
Judy was a great mom right up to the end. She looked forward to talking to Kelly every weekend. She shared with me that she hoped Kelly would find someone who could help her settle in to life and be able to really enjoy things. Judy had the joy of knowing that Kelly found that “someone” who would love her and care for her
Judy worked some as a secretary. However, she worked for the joy of it, not because she felt she HAD to work. She needed to be out with people because that was her “fuel” for living. I’m sure that because of this, she was a great employee. For years Judy played the organ at the church
Judy had various people with whom she visited regularly. If you knew Judy, you knew she could be outspoken. She did not have a filter (or at least, not much of one) so you might find her talking to anyone about anything!
The thing I liked about Judy was how generous she was with encouragement. She wrote me many time to comment on a funeral she had read or something else she had found on our website.
Judy loved the Internet. As it became more difficult to get around and to be with people, she turned more and more to e-mail and other ways of electronic communication. She was a woman who was willing to change with the times.
Judy Housewright will be missed. She was one of those rare people who had lots of friends because she was so generous in showing friendship to others.
This would be a horribly sad time apart from the promise of the gospel. If this is all there is (as some people would contend) then this life would be pretty hopeless.
The Bible tells us the truth: we have rebelled against letting the Lord have control over our lives time after time. Many people think they are good people and perhaps have earned heaven. Others believe the only requirement for Heaven is death.
The Bible does not say either of those things. The Bible says we have fallen far short of God’s requirements. Think about it. Suppose you ignored what God wanted you to do (which is what sin is) 3 times in a day. (That would be an extraordinarily good day for me). But let’s imagine that you are THAT good and that you are THAT good consistently. Even then you would have rebelled against Him 21 times in a week. 80+ times in a month, and almost 1000 times in a year. Multiply that by your age and you have quite a debt! And let me remind that this is living at a level that I don’t think anyone can maintain!
The Bible says this is why God sent Christ into the world. He sent Him to alert us to our problem and then to solve it by dying in our place. He paid our debt. Think about how grateful we would be if we had 50,000 speeding tickets and someone paid our fine for us! Jesus did far more than this.
Of course, anyone can say they are dying for your sin. But Jesus did not only say this . . . he backed it up!! He rose from the dead! It was God’s way of saying; It’s True! You can be forgiven and made new!”
The Bible says we must admit that we are broken and then turn to Him for forgiveness and new life. It is not about our performance, it is about His. He will save us . . . if we let Him.
How does this relate to Judy? I believe she understood these things. I believe she had placed her trust in Christ to save her. And as a result her sin is forgiven and she is able to stand before the Lord as if she had never sinned. I envision her waking up with the arms of Jesus spread wide before her. I see Him with a smile on His face saying, Welcome home Judy! Come with me . . . there is so very very much to see. There are so many people with whom you will want to visit.
These are not the words of wishful thinking. They are words anchored to the historical, verifiable and life-changing nature of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We don’t have to talk of Judy in the past tense. She isn’t “gone’ she has “gone on”. The limits and the discomforts are all gone. The frustration has given way to incomprehensible joy.
Listen to the comforting words of Psalm 23,
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
We will walk through (not just into) the valley of the shadow of death . . . and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
There is a very real sense that we are walking through the “shadow” of death ourselves. We feel death nearby and it is personal. We get through this time by focusing on the promise that God has given to us.
Judy hasn’t so much died, as she has “gone home.” Someday she will be there waiting for us.
ˆWe thank you Father for bringing the sunshine of Judy Housewright into our lives. Please welcome her into the place that you have prepared for her.
SONG…Vince Gill “Go Rest High on that Mountain”
Vince Gill is reiterating what the Bible says so clearly. Jesus is the resurrection and the life . . . those who believe in Him, will live . . . even when they die.” The truth is, For those who have put their hope and trust in Christ the reality is we can’t TRULY live UNTIL we die.
So to Judy we don’t say, “Rest well’ . . . we say, “Go, live joyfully the life the Son of God has prepared for you.”