Summary: Titles and positions are not prerequisites to get to heaven.
A BEAUTIFUL DEATH
Text: Genesis 15:15
"And thou shall go to thy father in peace, thou shall be buried in a good old age."
Have you ever taken time out to watch the sun going down, and has your soul thrilled at the beauty of the sunset? That is what I want you to see in this death today. I like you and I to think of this world as a park filled with gardens and playing grounds, trees, and lakes, and museums and swimming pools. We are like children privileged to spend a day in the great park.
The time we are privileged to spend is not the same length, in light, nor beauty. Some days are long and sunlit, others are cloudy and stormy. Some children are able to stay only a few short hours. Some must go home at noon of day while the sun is still shining. Others stay till the sun begin to set in the beauty of the West. For each of us, the moment comes when the great nurse, Death, takes us by the hand and quietly says, "It is time to go home my child." This one sister, has been privileged to live until the shadows of the setting sun had lengthened, and the evening had come; the business of her world has hushed, and the fever of life was over, and her work was done.
In the first place, it is a beautiful death because it climaxes the long and wonderful life of One need not eulogize the character of the departed to you who have known her. Her life tells its own story. The friendship here demonstrate her influence; her family tells something about the quality of life.
There are those who come to the end of life filled with remorse and regret, and on their death beds they cry, "Take my wasted years and bury them with me." The have misused life, had further no great cause of human welfare, had buried their talents in cheap and selfish security. To such the Master will say, "Thou wicked and slothful servant" and instructed that they be cast into outer darkness. But not so with Margaret Shands. The few talents she had, she used well.
When she joined the church, she remained a faithful member. When things got bend out of shape, she did not leave her church like some of us would do, she hung in there and supported the ministry of the church. She served her church well, never looking for fame or want to be seen. She realized that titles and positions were not prerequisites to get to heaven. She knew that in order to get to heaven, she had to know God for herself.
So with faith she folds the earthly mantle to wait patiently to hear the voice of her Lord say, "Margaret, Well Done." These are the sweetest words one could ever hear, the most beautiful benediction that could conclude a life as hers and the most coveted epitaph that could grace one’s farewell.
The one Margaret we honor today, lived a long and useful, devoted life. The world has been made better for her having lived. The kingdom of heaven has been strengthened by her weak effort. Surely the congratulatory hand of life’s all wise judge reaches out in the accompaniment well done, thou good and faithful servant.
Death is not the end, the best is yet to be. Death is only a new beginning. It is going to bed on a cold rainy season night and waking up with the sun always shining. Margaret says to us today, when I go down to the grave, I can say like many others, I’ve finished my day’s work. For to her, the tomb is not a blind alley, it is a thoroughfare, It closes on the twilight and opens on the dawn of eternal day. She says, my work is ended. The best of it I’ve done poorly, any of it, I might have done better, but I have done. And in that fairer land, with finer material and a better
working light, she hopes to do a better work.
With this faith Margaret has laid down her armor and her sword and shield. With this blessed hope, she lived four scores and eight years. With her hands in God’s hand, guiding through this pilgrim pathway to a fairer land, which we by faith can see afar. No matter how difficult the journey is, the end of the road becons uson a beautiful destination, for our scripture
reminds us that if we but love him, we can look forward to a better day ahead. But the apostle goes on to enlighten us, "God hath revealed them to us by his Holy Spirit." So we need not be in the dark as to what is ahead. We can be perfectly assured though worms may destroy this body, the best is yet to come. A best that will find us in the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us.