March 15th

By Carolyn Newman

Memories of the 1998 Lenten season light the corners of my mind. While living a busy life, I received news that my precious mother was not going to live. As stated in the scripture, I needed for the Lord to hear my cry. Being involved with the sixteenth annual “I Love America” production at Dyess Elementary School and the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church Easter Pageant, how could I possibly fly home to Alabama to deal with loss and grief? Although years earlier, mother had told me not to cry when she went to her eternal home where she would see her own mother who died young, leaving a husband and seven children. Candidly, she added, “You can cry a little if you want to.”

In spite of being a Christian since I was nine, and believing I would see her again, I needed firm assurance. This was where the rubber met the road. The day after the funeral, my sister, daughter, granddaughter and I went by the peaceful, Alabama country cemetery at the end of a winding road lined with pines and magnolias. How country is that? With no outlet, the county put a road sign: Dead End. Although it provided a humorous moment, the sign was later removed. Armed with beautiful roses from the cemetery, we arrived at Gulf Shores, Alabama, near where I was born. Amid a cloudy, overcast day, I tossed the flowers to the majestic waves. Suddenly, a large flock of seagulls swept down, picked up every rose petal, then disappeared into the clouds. We all had tears streaming down our cheeks because we had witnessed what we believed to be a beyond coincidence affirmation of where mother had gone.

The scripture says, “He set a new song in my heart.” “Because He Lives” was sung at mother’s funeral. However, when the lyrics took on a deeper meaning, it was as if it were a new song. “And then one day, I’ll cross the river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain. And then as death gives way to Victory, I’ll see the lights of Glory and I’ll know He reigns. Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives.”

He heard my cry! Back in Abilene, the children performed beautifully at the “I Love America” program. Pageant ministered to my grieving heart. During performance, it came to me so vividly that there was no doubt about seeing my loved ones in Heaven one day. Easter Sunday took on a whole new meaning. It was a moving experience to share my assurance story with the congregation. And I had no doubt that mother was smiling and waiting to give me a hug whenever God calls me to my eternal home. Although death seems to be the final word. It isn’t. It’s Life.

Carolyn Newman is married to George, and they have 2 grown children and 6 grandchildren. For 32 years, she was a public-school music educator and church children’s choir director. She has been in the Celebration Worship choir since 1967 and is a member of the Lydia Sunday School class. Her life verse is Psalm 28:7: The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted in Him and I am helped. Therefore, my heart greatly rejoiceth and with my song will I praise Him.

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