Friday, October 9, 2009

Kristine's Life Lessons: A Funeral Message

It’s a strange kind of loneliness we feel this morning, a painful loneliness like some of us have never felt before. Lonely for a faithful wife and partner, lonely for a loving mother, lonely for a precious daughter and sister, lonely for Grammy. We miss our wonderful friend, Kristine, so suddenly taken from this life into the next, leaving behind painful grief and broken hearts.

Let’s not let our tears blind us to the faith we profess. As sudden and tragic as is our loss this day, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We can find comfort in our time of loss and hope for the days ahead.

I have been asked the question several times since Saturday: “Can you tell me how she died?” This morning I must say, “No, I will tell you how she lived.”

These words of scripture seem to capture for me the life and heart of Kristine White.

1 John 4:7-12 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Someone said, “The true measure of a person’s life can be summed up with the answer to one question: How well have I loved?”

Let me share with you some important life lessons from Kristine White who lived well and loved much.


Life is faith.

You can find these words in Kristine’s kitchen, in her bedroom, on her Facebook page, just about everywhere. “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

Someone might say, “Well. It was her job to serve the Lord, she worked here.” You need to understand something. Kristine and Phillip lived out their faith before God in our fellowship for years before we asked Kristine to join our staff. She didn’t start serving the Lord because we hired her. She and Phillip had already made a commitment. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

And let me add a word here from our church staff here at First Baptist, Connie and Twila, Fritz and Ron, John and Cara, and myself. What a joy it has been to work alongside Kristine, what a wonderful, gifted servant of God, what a blessing she has been to us personally and in our ministry together. How we will miss her.

I’m afraid we are all going to loose a little weight now that Kristine’s not bringing in the treats, the cinnamon rolls, the bagels and cream cheese.

To begin with, for Kristine, life is faith. Whatever else we say about Kristine today, however praiseworthy and beautiful her life has been, we need to remember that she was the kind of person she was because of Christ, because of God’s work of grace in her life.


Life is family.

No one could argue that Phillip and Kristine are a matched set. I always enjoyed the way Kristine talked about Phillip and the way Phillip talks about Kristine. I can’t say that about too many couples. But the love always came through.

They have had their share of problems and challenges, but they never seem to mix up the problem and person. They never lost a grip on their love for each other. How painful it is to now be separated by death.

When Kristine married Phillip, she became a new mother to Cassel and then along came three more little girls who have each been so blessed by their mother’s love and care, and who each have inherited some of their mother’s personality and characteristics.
How heartbreaking it is to think of the girls growing up without their mom. No one can take a mother’s place. But I will say this, to Phillip and the girls: Your larger family, your extended family, your church family are going to come around you with faithful attention, with practical help, and with a warm and loving embrace, determined to be like a mother to each of you. Life is family, and so we will be a family to you.

Not only was Kristine a wonderful mother, she never stopped being a good daughter and best friend to her mother, Billie or Mama Jean, spending every Thursday together with her mom. It was a day to run around, hit the sales, have lunch, just be together.

Life is family, and not just for herself. Kristine was concerned for all of us, she cared about our families, too.

How many of you met Kristine through MOPS or Girlfriends? Kristine’s dedicated leadership was just an outward expression of her concern for your family. She cared about your families just like she cared for her own.


Life is others.

Kristine knew that people matter more than stuff. There was not a materialistic bone in her body. On the contrary she was one of the world’s great bargain hunters and a dedicated garage sale shopper. She was thrifty, because she knew that stuff is just stuff. Life is others. Life is people. Life is relationships.

That’s why Kristine was so compassionate and generous to others, so anxious to serve others. I remember when our church began mission work over at the Buckner Apartments. Phillip and Kristine were part of a team of faithful workers, cooking and serving dinner, canvassing the neighborhood, teaching the lessons and telling the stories to all the rowdy kids. I remember on most Sundays, Phillip and Kristine and the girls never went home, from early Sunday morning until late Sunday evening. They would go get some lunch and then back to church to start cooking and preparing for Buckner. And back then, Kristine was not yet serving on our staff. It wasn’t her job. It was her heart that kept her there, serving with her team for years. That’s right. Years.

Life is others. Kristine was not big on solitude, not for herself or others. She didn’t like for anyone to be lonely, forgotten, left out. She couldn’t stand to see people stuck on the outside looking in.

With Kristine, there was always room for more, more family, more friends, more kids. I remember the first summer she was leading our children’s ministry, she brought me her plan with everything she wanted to do that summer, all the field trips and parties and crafts and road trips and projects. I looked it over and you can probably guess my first words: “Are you nuts? What are you thinking?”

She smiled that big smile and said, “We can do it, sure we can. And guess what, I need you to drive the bus.” So I got to drive and get in on some of Kristine’s big summer plans.

She was always thinking let’s do more, let’s reach more, let’s care more, let’s love more, let’s go after some more. And that’s exactly what she did. Kristine taught us all to think big, to love big, to serve big. She had a big heart because God has a big heart. Life is others.

Kristine was absolutely a master of the art of friendship. She stayed in touch like nobody stays in touch. How she managed so many friendships, I have no idea. She gave her time and her listening ear. She wrote countless notes and gave so many little thoughtful gifts, not to mention the giant, world class gift baskets. She just had a wonderful way of making each person and each child feel very special.

I read some where that people and their relationships are like Legos. We only have so many connections that we can make to others, and after that we don’t have any more time or energy for deep friendships. So, probably four, six, eight really close friendships are the maximum for anybody.

Well, Kristine shoots that theory all to heck. There must 300 or 400 of us here today who all feel like we’ve lost one of our closest friends. How did she do that?

It makes me wonder if most of us, myself included, may be loving at way below our capacity. If Kristine can touch so many, maybe you and I can reach out to a few more ourselves. She makes me want to be a better friend. You, too?


Life is joy.

Kristine was just plain fun. You know how certain people can light up a room. Some people can change the atmosphere. You run into them and in a moment they can turn your whole day around. There are a rare few that can come in and with just one big smile say, “Let’s get this party started.”

I have been thinking about Kristine and pondering a deep theological question: Do you suppose there is Bunko in Heaven? Well, there is now. Even Jesus often talked about joy and laughter in Heaven, He described banquets and feasts, parties and celebrations. Talk about fitting right in. Kristine shows up, “Let’s get this party started.” Life is joy, and now eternal joy.


Life is now.

Now. This moment. Tomorrow is not promised to us, there is no guarantee. Only today is in our hands. Life is now.

One moment we are just riding along with the kids headed to a ball game, and in an instant, a second, a heartbeat, everything changes.

“What is your life?” the scripture asks us. “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life is now, not tomorrow, not someday, not when I get around to it. Life is now. Live now.

So, whatever you have to say to the people in your life, say it now. Whatever you need to express, better do it now. What are you waiting for? Whatever love you feel, whatever forgiveness you need, whatever peace you seek, do it now, say it now. Life is now.

Because life is now you had better prepare now, prepare for eternity. Many of us have struggled over the unfairness of someone like Kristine being taken from us. We can’t understand why such terrible things happen in this fallen world. We struggle for answers to our painful questions.

Maybe we would do better and be wiser if we focus on what we do know. Here’s what we do know, for sure, absolutely, guaranteed, beyond all doubt, with bedrock certainty.

We are on this side of death headed to the other side of death. You, me, all of us. We are all going. Nothing we might do can change that equation, the bottom line stays the same.

The timing is beyond our control. We try to be careful, to take care of ourselves and protect ourselves and those we love as best we can, but the truth is, we can’t do much about when death comes. I know we pretend that we are in control, but I guess we really aren’t, are we? The timing is beyond our control.

And, in eternity it won’t matter much whether we lived to be 40 or 60 or 80. In the span of eternity, our lives pass by in a moment, like a single tick of the clock.

This life is preparation for the next. Kristine would want me to tell you, to share with you, to beg you. Trust Christ with your life and with your eternity.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Life lessons. Have you learned the truth about life? Kristine would tell us as she tried to show us:

Life is faith.
Life is family.
Life is others.
Life is joy.
Life is now.

And, eternal life is Jesus.

4 comments:

Annie said...

I love that you told us about Kristine not how she died. It seems even though death has taken her life, her spirit is still shining and will be for a long long time. Bless you for remembering her and letting us get to know her as well.

Drew Hill said...

Thank you for your thoughtful words, Annie. God has been so good during our time of loss. And yes, the sweetness of Kristine's testimony lingers on.

Bruce Osborn said...

Drew,
What a powerful sermon and incredible words. I am going to share some of your thoughts with our staff here at the YMCA on Life is Now. I hope you don't mind. Hope you are doing well.
-Bruce Osborn

Drew Hill said...

I don't mind at all, Bruce. The testimony of Kristine's life continues to bless even those who never met her.