~Calculating route, the GPS squawked directions to yet another church, for another funeral; three in just as many months. This time we were attending the home going celebration for my son-in-laws grandmother, Montine Tyson.
The young Baptist preacher said he’d known Mrs. T for years and through those years she’d taught him three valuable lessons he’ll never forget. And now, neither will I.
Lesson one: Simple.
“The first time I stood behind this pulpit I was young and green, I knew everything except how much I didn’t know.” The preacher pointed. “Mrs. T sat right there—in her regular spot.” The young man reminisced.
“I preached on the end times. Figured I’d impress the congregation with big words like eschatology, postmillennialism—” And he said some other stuff I can’t remember—or couldn’t spell even if I could.
“After finishing my sermon" he continued, "I walked down that aisle right there.” He pointed to the aisle slightly to his left. “As I walked past Mrs. T stood and stuck out her hand. And in one sentence taught me more than I had taught anyone in the church that day.
'Son,' she said. 'I ain’t understood a single word you said…but I’m gonna pray for you.'
From that day to this, I’ve tried to keep it simple. I can reach more people with a simple lesson, than trying to make a big impression.” He pointed at the casket and his eyes got real shiny and his voice cracked a bit. “She taught me that.”
Lesson two: Suffer.
The preacher cleared his throat and wiped his eyes. “Sometime later, I was visiting Mrs. T and she must have read something on my face or heard something in the tone of my voice and asked. ‘Young man, can I tell you a story?’
Well sure Mrs. T, I told her. And she proceeded to tell me how years ago she had a pastor stop by for a visit. And that pastor carried on about all his troubles. He had problems with this and trouble with that and just didn’t understand why God would allow him to suffer so.
Mrs. T paused and looked me in the eye and asked, ‘Do you know what I told that man?’
No ma’am I don’t know.
She said, ‘Why not you? Why shouldn’t you suffer? Why do you think you’re so special that you don’t have to suffer? Jesus suffered, Paul suffered, Job suffered, Jonah suffered, Joseph suffered—why not you?’
She must've read my mind.
Why not me?
Doesn’t the Bible say, All who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution? (2 Timothy 3:2).
Didn’t Jesus say, In this world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world? (John 16:33).
Is it not written, Think it not strange concerning this fiery trial which is to try you? (1 Peter 4:12).
Why not me? I’ve grown more through trials than smiles and every time I suffer, I learn to lean just a little closer to the One who walks with me…She taught me that, too.”
Lesson three: Better.
“Mrs. T loved life. She was filled with a joy for living. And when her departure was drawing near, she didn’t give up. But she started yearning for something better—longing for Home.
I read her a passage from the first chapter of Philippians. I read them. She lived them.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain… I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.Mrs. T knew Christ. She is with Him now. I miss her. We miss her. But I know she is better—far better.”
With that the preacher prayed. We sang a few hymns. And that was the end.
But then, my three-year old grandson said it best. As the casket rolled by, he really didn’t know what was going on—or maybe he did, because he said, “Look Papa, they’re pushing a big treasure chest.”
Montine Tyson: this earth is better—far better for holding this treasure for eighty-four years, and now she is better--far better.