Summary: Funeral message for a 91 year old Christian lady who had demonstrated amazing resilience in how many times she had defied the doctor's predictions of her demise. She was also a lady who loved to be outdoors in the sunshine. I had never used an object le
FUNERAL MESSAGE for Leola Williams
We have a long-held tradition here at Liberty – that I’m sure isn’t anything unique to our church. every Mother’s Day Sunday, we take a moment to recognize and honor the mother with the most children present. And also – the oldest mother present. Well, at 91 years of age – you can probably guess WHO was honored for being our oldest mother here last Mother’s Day. When you reach that hallowed age – you don’t have a lot of competition left. Of course, Leola didn’t always hear what was being announced – and she might have struggled to understand everything I was saying. But I knew I could always count on Cynthia (her daughter) to make sure we knew who the winner was. Whenever I got up to, “Are there any mothers who are 90 – or older?” – Cynthia was sitting back there in the corner doing one of these (POINTING). We had a special present all nice and wrapped. And when you’re 91, we don’t make you come to the front of the sanctuary to receive it. We have one of our ushers come and get it – and personally hand deliver it to you.
And I remember Leola – so beautifully dressed, and perfectly color-coordinated as she always was – standing to receive her gift while everybody in the sanctuary gave her an ovation. That was one of my lingering memories of Leola as I was preparing for her memorial service today. I thought – there’s going to be a new champion crowned on Mother’s Day next year. She won’t be here to defend her title anymore!
And you know, it might seem kind of odd to you. I have to admit that I’ve never done anything that even remotely resembled an “object lesson” during a funeral service before. But as I was preparing for this service today – I had a picture of a common item that I just couldn’t get out of my mind. And strangely enough, that item was one of these (HOLD UP RUBBER BAND – AND STRETCH IT). I hope you can recognize it if you’re sitting back a few rows. It’s a rubber band.
And I wish I could make this illustration sound really spiritual by reading some Psalm or Proverb about rubber bands. But the only problem is that – rubber hadn’t been invented yet when the Bible was written. So you won’t find any mention of it – even in the Living Bible – because I looked. Now, I found a reference to Sampson snapping the ropes that Deliah tried to tie him up with. And I found several references to “God stretching forth his arm. . .” But I couldn’t find any mention of a rubber band in there.
But I think why I kept getting this picture of a rubber band in my mind whenever I thought of Leola – was because they shared a common characteristic. In rubber bands we call is “elasticity”. You know, elasticity is the ability a rubber band has to stretch – and then return to its original shape. You can just stretch and stretch a rubber band – and it’ll keep coming back to its original shape time after time.
But what we don’t always see – is that every time you stretch a rubber band – it weakens it – just slightly. You may not see it. It may return to its exact same shape. But every rubber band has only so many stretches in it – before it finally snaps. It may take me all day – or it may take me only a few dozen times. But eventually – I’m going to exhaust the elasticity in this rubber band – and it’s going to snap. I guarantee you.
And you know, Leola was a lot like that rubber band. Only with people – we don’t usually refer to that quality as elasticity. The dictionary has another synonym by that word – that better applies to people. When it’s people who keep bouncing back time-after-time – we call it “resilience.” Leola was stretched so many times – being in-and-out of the hospital – I think we just assumed she’d always bounce back again. But we didn’t notice that her body was getting a little weaker every time it was stretched. She wasn’t as resilient as she’d always been before.
You know, the Bible does say, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) And it does says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) The Psalmist declared, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)