Summary: Funeral message for Chastine Bailey, whose life had been devoted to children as a mother, grandmother, teacher, Sunday School teacher, and neighborhood "mom".
If you are in any way involved with children, I have bad news for you. I have somber tidings. If you are involved with children, your work is not complete. It has not been completed, it is not completed, it never will be completed. Anyone who works with children knows that they will never quite do what you want them to do, they will never achieve the perfection you long for, and they will never arrive at the goals you set for them. Just get it out of your mind that you are going to raise perfect children. You are not. It won’t be done.
However, that does not mean you should give up, even though the goal will never be reached. Do not surrender the children, even though the target seems unreachable. Keep on keeping on with the children. There is joy in the process, and there is glory at its end.
Oh, some have been tempted to give up. Parents have given up. You’ve heard, haven’t you, about the young woman who went away to college – I think it might have been to Hampton – and when she got home she found out that her parents had moved and left no forwarding address?! There was a message in that! Some have been tempted to give up on their children. But don’t give up on the children. There’s joy in the process of raising them and there is glory at the end of the day.
Teachers have given up. Some of you know the story of Helen Keller – a young woman born without sight and without hearing. Various teachers tried to reach this profoundly challenged child, but could not. But there was a gifted young woman, Annie Sullivan, who saw in the young Helen unlocked potential, and through a system of touching created a way to communicate. She did not give up on this child. There was joy in the process and glory at its conclusion.
If you are involved with children, your work will never be complete. But if you are committed to the goal of bringing these children toward what God intended them to be, you will be fulfilled, and you will know that there is joy in the process and glory at its end.
Our creative God knew this when in His heart He purposed, as the writer of Hebrews has it, to “bring many children to glory”. He knew this and embraced this even though He understood that there would be pain in it. Pain and all, still there would be joy bringing children to glory. So our loving God chose to call Chastine White Bailey into His service, to accomplish His purpose of bringing many children to glory. Today we praise God for one who with grace and dignity took up this task, with all its frustrations and with all its pain, but who found joy in the process and glory at its end.
You see, when God made our world, He did not make it complete. He did not finish everything. He left it to us to have the joy and the responsibility of continuing His work. When you think about it, what we human beings are called to do is awesome. It is immense. We are to develop and bring to completion this world and all who live here. We have the responsibility of taking the plans laid out by the Master Engineer, Al, and bringing them into being. We are like substitute teachers who arrive in the classroom to find plans left behind by the master teacher; and it is our task to bring those plans to life.
So the writer of Hebrews reminds us:
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them … that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet.”
God has put us in charge of this world. It’s not finished yet. But there is joy in the process and glory at its end.
One Sunday after worship, Chastine came downstairs from her usual place with the preschool children. It was February and the children were working on Valentines to take home for their parents. Chastine was disturbed. She had had a little disagreement with some of the other workers. It seems that some of her colleagues were not satisfied with the pasty, chopped up, messy productions that our two and three year olds were making. They wanted something better for the children to take home. So some of our teachers had “improved” those Valentines. They cut out the hearts, they pasted the lacy doilies, they made the children sit to the side while they, the adults, did the work. Chastine was disturbed. She did not agree. She said, “They don’t understand that this perfect Valentine won’t be the child’s work. We don’t want perfection here. We want the child’s involvement. We want the children to give their own gifts.” Chastine understood that when you are working with a child, the product may not be perfect, but the point is that there is joy in the process and glory at its end. The point is that you bring a child to glory. Just as God’s purpose is in bringing many children to glory.