A dear friend of our family, Janet Halverson Strobeck, passed on to her heavenly home this week at age 93. She is the beautiful woman seated on the right. Next to her is Ruth Muzzy, who also passed on this past year at age 97, and standing is my mother, Esther Barker who passed on in 2018 at age 90.
I use the words “passed on” intentionally because though their bodies died, each of their souls lives eternally with Jesus. What a great reunion they had this week!
These three women became friends early in their marriages and in their last years ended up living at the same retirement community. It was such a gift to each of them to have this dear friendship for over 60 years. Their husbands were friends as well and they had years of sharing life together including the joys of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Janet found out recently that a great-great granddaughter is expected!
These women first met at College Church in Wheaton in a Sunday School class. Their friendship was founded on their relationship as fellow Christians – “sisters” in the Lord. That fellowship carried them through life’s difficult storms. Each experienced loss, tragedy, heart break, and most difficult – the loss of their husbands after marriages of over 60+ years. They also shared the joys and celebrations of their families and extended families rejoicing with each other.
The three friends prayed together over the years and prayed for each other – their children – grandchildren – great-grandchildren. I am the recipient of so many of those prayers. It has made me feel secure in my faith over the years knowing that these ladies who loved me and loved my family were faithfully lifting me up before our heavenly Father.
I remember “Aunt Jan”, visiting her daughter Carol (we were roommates in Sylva, North Carolina) soon after I first met Phil – who is now my husband. Aunt Jan and Uncle Chuck grilled me on the worthiness of Phil and told me they did so on behalf of my parents. Their main concern was that Phil was a Christian and that his commitment to the Lord was sincere. They took seriously their friendship and love of our family.
Which brings me to the thoughts I am having now as the last of this generation of saints passes on. These ladies were not perfect – you can ask any of their children. They made mistakes and sometimes hurt each other and their families. BUT – they did love God, confess their sins, and dearly loved their families. Each wanted to see the gospel of Jesus Christ shared throughout their community and the world. And each wanted their loved ones to walk in sincere faith.
In II Timothy 1:3-5 Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage in the faith. He mentions the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
Paul mentions that this faith now lives in Timothy also.
The faith and example of the prayers of Janet, Ruth, and Esther is passed on to the following generation – us.
We must take up the mantle of sincere faith. We must live our lives worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus in our lives.
The mantle has passed on to us – may we carry it well.