This was the scripture I used for the exhortation for the service just before my mum’s cremation last Friday, 23 September 2016, 5.15pm at Mandai Crematorium. That morning, Ps Martin Tang Whatsapp me and asked me to consider giving the exhortation before cremation. I was hesitant as I was not certain how I was within. I did not turn it down but told him to standby if I was not able to.
6 A voice says, “Call out.”
Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
– Isaiah 40:6-8 (NASB)
God always has His way. My pastor was not able to come as his car broke down and he had to be at the workshop. There were impressions of what I should speak of in morning while I was talking to friends who came. It was only on the 20min ride to Mandai crematorium that the message came together.
During the ride to the crematorium, I saw in my spirit the process of a beautiful flower in full bloom wilting into a limp and lifeless clump on repeat. I remembered holding my father’s hand by the hospital bed almost 16 years ago until his pulse and breathing stopped. Still fresh in my mind, I saw the face of my mother when she breathed her last as her heart stopped, in my arms. It was God’s grace that mum’s pulse came back in the ambulance after stopping for almost 20-25min even though I was doing CPR on her. The frailty of life of the persons who brought me to life on this earth struck me hard. Being present and in close contact with them at the moment when their earthly life was taken forced me to consider the reality of life and death. Mum’s frail body in my arms felt exactly like the wilted flower, completely limp and absent.
Life exists when there are input and output, like breathing in and out, eating and pooping, and drinking and peeing. Growth is a sign of life too. Medically, the heart, breath and brain activities are signs of life. Ironically, the sight of my mum lying in the hospital bed with apparatus to sustain her breathing did not look like life to me. Death was imminent. I recalled mum gasping her last breath and let a sigh of relief when she closed her eyes at home before her breathing and pulse stopped. She gave up struggling and gave her life up. We tried to get her back, but only to snatch an additional few hours of her weak pulse, nothing else.
In the face of death, my mum had a peaceful countenance. I remembered dad’s countenance was glowing with glory as though the Lord Jesus came and took him. Death can be horrifying. Yet, death was a release to both dad and mum. Dad fought cancer and was a tough battle. Mum fought the after effects of a stroke that left her bed-ridden for eight years. Suffering and the frailty of our physical bodies were the reality my parents battled just to be alive.
What is life defined in the Bible?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. – John 14:6 (NASB)
Life is Jesus.
Life exists before creation in God.
God gave life to creation through His Son Jesus, the Creator and the Saviour.
Creation’s lifeline is Jesus.
Our lifeline is Jesus.
With Jesus, death has no hold on us and we can declare, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).
“For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.”
– 2 Cor 5:4 (NASB)
How I appreciate the truth that life swallows up our mortality! This is the hope we have in Christ. The earthly death where our mortal body passes away becomes a doorway to the fullness of life with the source of life. Dad and mum are both now with God, away from the pains and the burdens of this mortal world. Placing mum’s urn next to dad’s on 28 Sept (Sat) morning somehow felt complete. “The word of our God stands forever” and the hope of reunion with them in the future spurs me to run this race of life to the fullest.
Daddy and mummy, you are dearly missed. Till I see you again in glory. <3 <3 <3