Summary: This is the eulogy of a woman who was very invovled in the life of the church and died unexpectedly near her 50th birthday.
Norma Washington 9/10/2004
Norma Washington had the gift of a particular smile, that when you looked at her, it would seem as though a laugh was just a second or two away. Her smile and her eyes worked in combination to give you a good feeling inside while you were in her presence. This past Sunday I preached the message, “is God in your work.” The heart of the message involved the question, “are you doing what God created you to do when God created you in His image.
In our Old Testament reading, we discover we were not the random chance of one sperm hitting an egg while countless millions missed. We are an intentional act of God being created in our mother’s womb with special gifts and talents which come from God’s image. One of the verses in the passage we read proclaims. Psalm 139:16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
We were all shocked the suddenness and unexpectedness of Norma’s death, but I find comfort in knowing that last Sunday was known by God at the same time God was putting Norma together in her mother, Allie Chamber’s womb. It lets me know that God is still in control. Death never catches God off guard.
We often use the phrase, “why did God take my mom.” In reality, God does not take anyone. God only waits for the arrival because all of us are on a journey in life. Right now God is waiting your arrival, and God is waiting for mine. We may want to argue with God over what time the train should leave the station or the ship should leave the dock, but sooner or later we will be boarding. Death comes to us all.
God’s perspective on death is quite a bit different from ours. We see death as something to be avoided at almost any cost, but for some reason God sees it with the potential for tremendous gain for us. We say “God how could you let this happen” and yet the word of God says, “precious in the sight of the Lord is death of His saints.”
A saint is not someone who has lived a perfect life. A saint is not someone who thinks he or she is better than someone else. A saint is not a super spiritual person who goes around saying praise God and Hallelujah after every other word. A saint is a person who recognizes, that he or she can never be good enough to go to heaven or be bad enough to lose the chance to do so, but understands that by putting his or her faith in Jesus Christ, he or she can be changed into a child of God.
The reason we are having a Homegoing service today is that Norma Washington knew Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. The reason we have hope today is the promise that Jesus made to all of his followers when he spoke of going away to Heaven, Jesus said, “in my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you, and I will come back to take you to it, that you may be with me.
Are you aware that we spend a whole lifetime preparing to die and some of us are not ready when we arrive? The sad thing is, so many people live as though this lifetime will go on forever, they never take time to ask God, what was my purpose and why did you create me.
We live because God has ordained certain things for us to accomplish. He expects us to do it through the everyday experiences of life. God treats us differently because He gives us different things to work with. In order to discover what ingredients God used to create Norma, all we have to do is to look at who she was. Norma was strong, intelligent, anxious, humorous, shy, stern, passionate, compassionate, caring, hard-working, working for perfection and loving.
As a child, Norma had the possibility to consider a possible career in professional wrestling. She and her sister Debbie were just a year and 16 days apart and they spent their early years fighting and wrestling. It seemed Norma wanted to do everything Debbie was doing and Debbie just got tired of it. They even dressed alike. But the wrestling career hopes faded once they reached their teen years. They gave up the wrestling and fighting lifestyle, and thus began to blossom one of the most beautiful relationships between two sisters.
They shared some turbulent times together in high school be being among the first to go to Collinwood School. They would be on the school bus on the floor with racists throwing bricks and bottles breaking out the windows on the bus as it traveled to and from school. But this did not stop them from getting the education they would need to make it in society. They were among those who were willing to pay the price for equality in education.