Friday, February 27, 2009

"Oh How I Love Jesus" Will Never Sound the Same

In Loving Memory
Christine Jenkins Beal
Jan. 21, 1957-Feb. 21, 2009

I attended the funeral of a childhood friend yesterday. I hadn't seen her in a few years but she was just one of those people that had a huge impact on my life. I met her when I was probably not over 8 years old and she was already in her teens. Her name was Christine and she was deaf. I've never seen anyone 'glow' like Christine. There was always a joy and a sparkle in her eyes, and though she couldn't tell me about it verbally, I could sense it in a very strong way.

Oh that people could sense that in me without me using words. My mother and I sang at many churches in Mississippi and Alabama from the time I was just a toddler and at one of those singings is where I met Christine and her wonderful parents. There was just an infinite joy about the entire family; I was always amazed when I was in their presence. Christine taught me sign language and when I'd get impatient with it, she'd smile and we'd get out the note pad and pen. She spent the day with me and my mother at my house one day. One of the things she and I played was "Mother, May I." I can just see her doing the signs and moving her lips and asking "Mother, May I?" She was always smiling; someone even testified to that fact during her home-going service yesterday. I just have to share some things about this service with you.

I have never witnessed such a precious service in my lifetime. My words will be inadequate, but I just have to share this to the best of my ability. When the service began, the preacher and another lady that I didn't know went to the front of the church. The lady stood in one spot the entire service signing each and every word that was spoken whether in the message, testimony, prayer, or song. Christine's husband Larry is deaf and so is most of his family. I just sat and watched them drink in every single word the lady was signing. The service began with everyone standing and singing a congregation song (Standing On The Promises). The preacher read her obituary, then... Christine's three sisters went to the piano and sang. Before they sang, one of the sisters said that their mother's wishes was for them to sing this song because she had taught the chorus to Christine when Christine was twelve years old. Although Christine couldn't hear herself, she sang it. Then, the sister joined the other two at the piano and they started singing. I'm telling you, we'll have to get to Heaven before we hear anything with more harmony and feeling as those sisters voices yesterday. I could tell they were digging deep to get it out, but get it out they did. What a lovely, meaningful memory to Christine and tribute to their mother's patience and love. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. Even the funeral directors were tearing up. These are the words:

When I should feel lonely or I should feel sad,

I'm so contented and my heart is so glad.

Joy bells are ringing, and my soul is singing;

It's wonderful to know He is mine.

When I am discouraged or I'm filled with gloom,

God sends His angels to sing in my room.

I join the singing, the joy bells are ringing;

It's wonderful to know He is mine.

Oh, How I love Jesus.

Oh, How I love Jesus.

Oh, How I love Jesus.

Because He first loved me.

When they got to their seats, the preacher played the guitar and sang "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" and "No Not One". It was beautiful. Then, he asked if anyone had anything they'd like to say about Christine. Several people stood up and told of what a blessing she had been in their lives. I wanted to, but I was sitting there about to choke to death. I just can't cry and talk at the same time. Her mother, eighty something years old, raised her hand; the preacher said, "Yes, Sister Jenkins." She slowly stood up and said several things about her daughter. The tears started flowing again. Mrs. Jenkins was strong with her words. She was thanking God and telling us how good God is. She is a great woman of faith. One of her sisters told about teaching Christine to jitter-bug! She said that she would stomp the floor hard so Christine could feel the rhythm and beat, and Christine would just roar with laughter! Bro. Hastings preached a wonderful message and then we were dismissed to the burial. At the grave, Bro. Hastings mentioned that Christine is now able to hear with her ears and I stood there thinking about what she was hearing! I like to think that the first thing she heard when her eyes closed in death was the voice of God saying, "Well done Christine, welcome home." She won't have to sign anymore or carry a little note pad around. We'll meet again my dear friend and I will tell you what an impact you had on my life. Joyfully yours, Liesa


Roan said...

What a wonderful post! I have chillbumps and tears in my eyes.
Thanks for sharing!

BECKY said...

Oh Liesa, What a blessing to be a part of that service!! And to have such a lovely person in your life.

I really got a sense of what it would have been like to be there with you. Tears and all. How very precious.
It does make me think of what will be said about me at mine one day. May we all live in a way that God will be truly honored in our lives, and at our services as well, and we will be welcomed into His presence with those wondrous words "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

Thank you for this sweet, thought-provoking post, Liesa. You are such a warm, lovely lady.

What a joy to know she's hearing the heavenly hosts singing praises to the Most High God...I just love thinking about it!!

Joyful blessings,

Amanda said...

This was a super sweet post. I never met Christine but mother adored her. She told me that she was a very sweet person. I am glad that you shared the story it brought tears to my eyes.


Walking on Sunshine... said...

What a beautiful service! I love when there's a funeral and the people all love the Lord and can truly celebrate the life of a person who also loved the Lord. I haven't heard the verses to that song in years, it was so great to be able to read them without any music playing. How beautiful the promises are!! Thanks for sharing! So sorry for your loss and the pain you are going through, but know that one day we will all be reunited as if we were never apart. I'm so looking forward to that day!!!

BECKY said...

Hey sweetie...You have three awars at my blog, not one!! The cowgirl, Marie Antoinette, and the sisterhood award!!