Summary: Funeral message for Eva Myers, whose distinctive discipline was six miles of walking daily ... a metaphor for walking with Christ.
"Whoever obeys [God’s] word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, ’I abide in him,’ ought to walk just as he walked."
At first I didn’t believe it. Six miles a day?! How could anybody, especially one up in her years, possibly walk six miles a day? But Eva Myers insisted that she did do so, in fair weather or in foul, and that it was very important to maintain that walking discipline.
Discipline is one thing, but six miles of discipline? That seemed very unlikely, but several people confirmed it. The course, they said, was a measured course, out there at Leisure World. It was six miles long. And yes, Mrs. Myers did walk that course. If the weather was too bad, she would walk the corridors in her building, back and forth; but most of the time, it was out on the trail, six miles of discipline.
She told me why, of course. Most of you heard it too. "My doctor said that if I expected to live, I would have to walk." The word of the doctor became for her not just advice, but a command; not just good counsel, but a way of life; not just discipline, but obedience. "If I expected to live, I would have to walk." Six miles of obedience.
And so her walk, her daily walk, becomes for us a parable of the significance of Eva Myers’ life. "Whoever says, ’I abide in [Christ], ought to walk just as he walked." If we would learn from Mrs. Myers, we must learn six miles of obedience.
Step them off with me, will you? I found the trail marked out in the 26th Psalm. Step off these miles with Eva Myers and learn six miles of obedience.
The first mile is integrity. Integrity. "Vindicate me, 0 Lord, for I have walked in my integrity." Our sister Eva knew the meaning of living with integrity, and she expected others to hold to what is right. A few years ago she served on the church’s Administrative Committee, which is really our personnel committee. While she was on that committee, we had to deal with some integrity issues concerning one of our staff members. I remember Mrs. Myers shaking her head and reporting that in her day in the workplace, no one got away with being late, no one did personal business on company time, and no one expected pay for work that was not done. Others on the committee wanted to be lenient; but I give you one guess who voted for strict integrity.
"Vindicate me, 0 God, for I have walked in my integrity." But I must hurry on to say that she also knew that integrity meant appreciation and care; it is a great tribute that one of our former staff members, Mr. Frank Jackson, volunteered to serve as a pallbearer today; he felt her integrity and her care for him.
The first mile of obedience is integrity.
The second mile of obedience is trust. Trust in the love and mercy of God. "I have walked in my integrity and I have trusted the Lord without wavering." You might read that, "I have trusted the Lord without wandering off the path."
With Eva Myers there was an implicit and thorough-going trust in the will and the love of God. Some of you know that during one twelve-month period, she was hospitalized fourteen times. When I knew about it, I would go to visit her.
One theme stands out in my mind, from those conversations: the Lord is keeping me here for a reason. If I just keep on walking ... and I was never quite sure just how she meant the word walking … if I just keep on walking, it’ll be all right.
Plenty of room to be anxious when you are in and out of the hospital that much. But, for her, "I have trusted the Lord without wavering." Trust is the second mile of obedience.
The third mile of obedience is faithfulness. Determined, dedicated, clear-eyed faithfulness. Listen to the Psalmist again and see if this does not have Eva’s name written all over it: "For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you." Faithfulness means keeping promises; it means honoring commitments. Mrs. Myers honored commitments that others would have dismissed as trivial, but they were not trivial to her. On more than one occasion she came and stood in my office door to try to pay me for altar flowers she had ordered; never mind that the pastor is not supposed to be handling money, according to our policy. Never mind that I would tell her she could pay later or send it in at her convenience. If she had ordered flowers, she had ordered flowers, and the bill must be paid. Now. The pastor handled the money! On her last Sunday before moving to Georgia, she was making sure that her offering envelope got in the right place at the right time. Faithfulness.