This past weekend, we had the privilege of celebrating a dear friend's life and, as my Yaya would say, his "homegoing"... the glorious passage of existence from flesh on earth to the presence of God in Heaven. My friends, the memorial service was beautiful, lovely, exactly as it should have been. There were three elements that spoke deeply to my heart. The first part of the service was spent in worship... All of Jackie's friends and family just celebrating him by worshiping the Lord together, just exactly how Jackie would have wanted us to celebrate him. We sang a song, written by my dear friend, Jenny Ayers, called "Most High". One of the verses says, "I stand in awe and wonder in this place, for you are loveliness. I join with saints and angels, forever to proclaim in your presence..." (Ya'll, I have chillbumps as I type this)... As we sang that verse, I couldn't help but smile so broadly. I felt joy rush into my heart and overflow out of me as I thought about how Jackie was worshiping the Lord in Heaven and that, by worshiping Him here on earth, we were truly joining in with Jackie's song. This is so poignant because Jackie played with Trevor and so many of our dear friends on our worship team at church. How many times had they stood (or in Trevor's case, sat) on the stage together, unified, friends, worshiping Jesus in one accord? And I know that Trevor and my friends will miss being on stage with Jackie, pouring hearts out to the Lord... but, in that moment, it became so clear to me that any time we worship on earth, we will be joining our friend, as he spends eternity worshiping at the feet of Jesus. We are never closer then, to the ones who've passed before us, to the loved ones we miss so desperately, than when we worship our God.
What a marvelous mystery. What a precious reality.
The second part of the service that touched me deeply was Jackie's adult daughter's words about him. She used language of friendship, described evenings spent playing board games, watching baseball games, having talks... She described her mother and father as she and her husband's "favorite couple to hang out with" and said that her father was "one of her best friends". So beautiful. And doesn't that just speak to who Jackie was and who Wendy, his wife, is, that their grown children would want to spend so much time with them, that their grown children would describe them in such a way? And, of course, it made me think of my own daddy and mom, who we LOVE to be with, who we seek out, who we begged to come to Florida with us in September, just because we love spending time with them. What a treasure. What a gift. And it challenged me, friends. It challenged me to be the kind of parent who's adult children pursue. To be the kind of parent who is steadfast, committed (Jackie and Wendy's son, Taylor, played baseball all the way through college, year round, and Taylor testified that Jackie only missed one game. One game. In Taylor's entire career), FUN, wise, gracious... I'm inspired.
And, finally, Wendy's words about her husband. I won't share everything, in case it wasn't meant for all the internet to read but suffice it to say that these two were resolutely and solidly in love. They were truly companions, unified. I will say that, before Jackie died, I was so moved by how Wendy talked about Jackie's cancer. She called it "ours". When describing what was going on in Jackie's body, she said "us" and "we", as in, "we are experiencing pain in such and such place" because, as she said, "We are one. What is happening to Jackie is happening to me."
Have I mentioned that I'm inspired?
And grateful. So grateful for the friendship of this family, for the hope that we have because of Jesus and for the ways that Jackie continues to teach and influence me.
"To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord" Hallelujah.