Summary: This is a funeral for a teacher who died at age 57.
As I thought about what I would share with you today, I considered the songs that Sheryl requested for this day. “Lord, I lift your name on high.” “How Great Thou Art” “Nearer My God to Thee” “The Lord’s Prayer” and Go - Tell it on the mountain.” And I realized very clearly that Sheryl wanted to teach all of us, one more lesson. True to the calling God placed on her life, to be a teacher, -- today, we are all her students, and she I believe, what she wanted for today, was to teach us, one more time, the most important lesson of all.
Sheryl is leaving with us, this afternoon, and for the days and months to come, her personal testimony. She is telling us she loved the Lord. She knew his salvation. She knew that he came from heaven to earth so that her, and our, debt of sin could be paid in full. And He rose again with victory over the grave.
Sheryl is telling us today, she believed in Jesus and had accepted him as her personal Savior.
I want to read again for you, a portion of the scripture that I read earlier from 2nd Timothy.
“You should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”
In this letter to Timothy, Paul is writing to his son in the faith and telling him to carry on the work. I believe Sheryl, as she thought about this day and what she would most like us to know, she is telling us, “Carry on the work.”
Paul was telling Timothy that his time had come - he had fought the good fight, finished the race. He had remained faithful and now the prize of righteousness was his. And he’s telling Timothy - “Do the same.”
There is no doubt in anybody’s mind here today, that Sheryl fought the good fight. She’s finished the race - and she finished it well. She remained faithful. And the prize is her’s.
The verses that we read have the instructions - the lesson, that Paul is teaching to Timothy. And the lesson that I believe Sheryl wanted every one of us to hear.
Keep a clear mind in every situation. Is there any situation a teacher doesn’t encounter?
No matter what life throws your way, keep a clear head about it. Stay level-headed. Know where your strength comes from - it comes from lifting the Lord’s name on high and recognizing His greatness.
Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord - Sheryl fought physical disease for 30 years - and again, I don’t believe there is a single doubt in anyone’s mind who is here today, Sheryl was not afraid of this day. She lived life to the full. I have it on good authority that she broke more bones than you could count just having fun. Doing the things she loved to do. She enjoyed the time she had. You know that better than I do. She made every minute count. But what I do know, is the day before she died, when I was alone with her in her hospital room, held her hand, and we prayed together, she told me - with her beautiful smile and confident look, “I am not afraid - I have finished the race.”
Sheryl taught us by her life to:
1. Run the race - she ran it well.
She taught us by her death:
2. To not be afraid.
I believe there are two more things Sheryl’s lesson teaches us today:
In just a moment we are going to sing, “Go, Tell it on the mountain.” Sheryl taught speech. She knew about enunciation and projection. And I can’t help but wonder if Sheryl chose this song for us to sing because she inherently knew that it’s on the mountain that our voices carry the best, and the farthest. I believe Sheryl not only wanted us to know that Jesus was born, but she wanted to teach us in a very profound way, that we are to tell others by our lives, that Jesus is born and alive today.
When I first learned that Sheryl wanted Go, Tell It On the Mountain to be sung, I admit, I thought - “Hmmm - that’s odd.” But then as thought more about it, I realized how very meaningful this song is, not only to Sheryl’s faith, but to her calling in life - her profession.
The scripture says, “Work at telling others the Good News.” Sheryl is telling us the same.
Finally, Scripture says: “Fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”
Sheryl was, and continues to be today, faithful to her calling. She said, in a newspaper interview, “There are many treasures of the classroom, but a sincere “Thank You” is the best. So today is our day, for each of us, to truly and sincerely, thank Sheryl for the lessons she has taught us all.