Tuesday, November 25, 2008
We'd like to send out a blanket THANK YOU~~~ There were a few arrangements that had lost their cards, and other gifts that we do not know who the senders were... please accept our many thanks. Andy, Wayne and Wanda and family.
Funeral Service for Michelle Yvonne (Major) Snelling
November 19, 2008 – Riverton, WY
Dean Bruer – We will begin with a hymn that was very special to Michelle, #276 “Precious Thought.” All are welcome to join in as we sing together.
I would like to read from the 11th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verse 25. “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight’.” Jesus was thankful that the plan of salvation was simple. It was revealed unto those that were willing to be babes. Michelle loved simplicity. One of her and Andy’s projects was the little apartment in the corner of the barn. We had been helping with that, along with many other people. We were at the stage of doing the texturing of the sheetrock. We were in at lunchtime and visiting with Michelle and we were going to try to do some fancy texturing, maybe put some horseshoes on the wall or we even thought about a horse at one time in the texture. Michelle just gently said, “well, weren’t we going to just keep it simple” and I said “thank you, Michelle.” It was her project really and we were just getting carried away wanting to make it nice, but simple is beautiful. Michelle had a simple life, but it was beautiful.
I have noticed in the New Testament when I have been thinking about the thought of simplicity that whenever Jesus was involved things that were complicated or impossible became simple with Jesus. The first miracle that he performed at a wedding they ran out of wine. What to do? Jesus just told the servants, “just fill the water pots with water” and they filled them to the brim. He said “serve now to the guests” and they served the best wine, the best wine. Very complicated, how did he do that? When Jesus is involved, solutions are simple.
In Matthew 14, and all the gospels record this, we read where Jesus fed 5000 men besides women and children. Now, those of you that have spent any time in the kitchen, if you knew you had 5000 people to feed it starts getting complicated. The logistics involved – how many potatoes do you cook for 5000 men besides women and children? Jesus was involved. He took a lad's lunch and he thanked God for the little lunch and he fed the multitude.
When Jesus is involved, overwhelming situations are simple. He just divided the bread and the fish and gave to his apostles and they took out and served to the people and they were all fed. Simple for Jesus.
There was a man that was blind. He was born blind. In John 9 you can read about his experience when Jesus was involved. Jesus made clay and he anointed his eyes and he told him to go wash and he went and he washed and he had eyesight. Now, I don’t know how complicated it would be to perform eye surgery, how many years a doctor studies medicine, how complex it would be, impossible maybe? When Jesus is involved it is simple. He put clay in the man’s eyes and he just told him to do something very easy to do: “You go wash” and he went and he washed and a notable miracle was his portion because Jesus was involved. Complicated, impossible situations become simple when Jesus is involved.
Back in Matthew 14, again, we have where Jesus came to His disciples walking on the sea during a storm. Unless the water is frozen, we can’t walk on it. It is impossible. I remember when I was a young boy reading in the Popular Mechanics magazine where some man tried to come up with Styrofoam shoes so he could walk on the water, not really. Peter saw Jesus and he said to Jesus “If it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water” and Jesus said “come” and Peter got down out of the ship and started walking to Jesus and he was afraid when he saw the waves and he started to sink. It says immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand. After Peter said “Lord save me,” Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him and then they both walked back to the ship. It is impossible for men and women to walk on water in that situation, but not with Jesus. Jesus held onto Peter and they walked back to the ship. It is impossible for us to live above the storms of life on our own strength, but not with Jesus. In Michelle’s life a storm was brewing, but she had a beautiful countenance. There was something special about her trust in her Saviour, her love for the Word of God, and that with Jesus holding her hand she could walk above this storm. She could manifest the beautiful workmanship that God does in a yielded life. She showed forth that.
Compassion. Jesus was moved with compassion many times and helped people that were sick or blind or had lost loved ones. In the 9th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, at the end of that chapter, the 36th verse, it says: “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into his harvest’.” Because Jesus saw the multitudes, it touched His heart and he sent forth a ministry, a simple ministry that He would be with and it would work as long as Jesus is involved. After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, he visited with his believers for 40 days. It tells us in Acts that he showed himself with many infallible proofs to those that believed him. Just before he was ascended to heaven in the 28th chapter of Matthew, Jesus said: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” A ministry that Jesus is involved in is simple. It is overwhelming to the minister, but it is possible because Jesus is involved. Compassion is simple. It is not words so much – sometimes it is hard to know what to say.
I heard a story of a young girl, 5 or 6, and the little neighbor girl was her friend. They played all the time. That little neighbor girl had something medical or an accident, I don’t know, but she died. The young girl, she told her mother, “I am going over to the neighbor’s.” She was there for a half-hour or so. She came back and her mother said “what did you say?” She said “I didn’t say anything; I just crawled up on her lap and we cried together.” Compassion is simple. The act of you people coming today shows your compassion. You are here and that speaks a lot to the family.
It is hard to pick out sympathy cards sometimes. I just go with the blanks; I just like to write a little something simple. Thank you for coming. Jesus was thankful for simplicity and so was Michelle. What I am thankful for is that with Jesus a simple life is rich and we have witnessed that and that is a comfort to me. As the days come and go, may our memories of Michelle be a comfort and may it help us appreciate more and more the workmanship of our heavenly Father.
We will sing now hymn #105 “Life’s Short Day”
I would like to read and share from some scripture that became increasingly precious to Michelle in recent months, because it was her own experience. In I Peter 4, beginning with verse 12: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. In the 5th chapter and on to the 10th verse: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Death helps to bring life into perspective. The gospel brings Christ into focus. Through the eye of faith we can see things which are heavenly and eternal. Death is a friend to the spirit of Jesus. Death releases the spirit from our limited human body. Death is not a stranger to those who have died daily. God did not plan that death would be an enemy. God did not plan that death would be a stranger. Death is not a stranger to those who have died daily and death is a friend to the Spirit of Jesus.
In regard to salvation, it has been said that “A long life is not necessarily good enough, but a good life is long enough.” Just some examples of that – we know that John the Baptist did not live a long life. He died at just a little over 30 years of age. But, he lived a good life and his life was long enough that the will of God for him was fulfilled in him and through him. James, the brother of John – we read of him being put to his death in the 12th chapter of Acts. James did not live a long life, but James did live a good life and it was long enough that God’s will was fulfilled in and through him. Of course, our greatest and foremost example is our Lord Jesus. He did not live a long life, but he lived a good life and it was long enough that God’s will was fulfilled in him and through him fully and completely and so at the close of his life he could say “It is finished.” As far as God’s plan of redemption, He completed the work that God had for Jesus to do on the earth. And Michelle, we know she did not live a long life, but she lived a good life and it was long enough that God’s will was done in her and with her and through her.
Three years ago, there were a few of us that were gathered together for Andy and Michelle’s wedding. It was a very special day. It was a solemn, yet a joyous occasion. On that day there were some tears and there was some laughter. It was a very, very special day. There were only a few of us gathered there together at Wayne & Wanda’s home. It was a very simple, Godly wedding. The presence of Jesus was there – the greatest guest that could be at any gathering. For those of us who were gathered together there, I can clearly hear those words that Michelle said and also that Andy said. And as they took those vows – “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, til death do us part”. They did not know that day, nor did any of us who were there realize the full meaning of those words and what they would come to mean. Andy meant those words that day and Michelle meant those words that day. We are thankful that they were faithful to those words – “in sickness and in health til death do us part.” Last night Andy was sharing with me a little of the final experience. Even in those last weeks and those last days and those last moments.
There was a commitment before God and we are thankful for that and we are thankful for the faithfulness of commitment and today we are very, very thankful for Andy, as well as Michelle, in their faithfulness. None of us fully know what lies before us in the future, but there will be made commitments and vows before God. Wonderful if there can be faithfulness in that.
Isaiah 53:2 – Jesus was referred to as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We know that Michelle became acquainted with sorrow. She became acquainted with grief, but through all of that perhaps she was just able to enter into a deeper, richer fellowship with the Lord. No one knew more sorrow than the Lord himself and he was acquainted with grief. We have a hymn which says “Let Sorrow Do It’s Work” and friend, there is a work that sorrow can do that nothing else can do. And if we would ever try to avoid the sorrow, that work will not be done and completed in our lives. “Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain.” So, even last night as we were watching the beautiful, beautiful sunset, we noticed the clouds accentuated that sunset. Like Michelle’s life – there were the clouds that made the sunset all the more beautiful. We are thankful that there is sorrow and that it adds a richness and it adds a depth to lives. And if we look at some of the greatest lives in the scriptures, they also knew sorrow and it added depth and it added richness to their lives. And even those in our own present day and age that have known great sorrow, it has added depth and it has added richness to their lives. Andy would say the same. I appreciated as he was sharing that Michelle helped him spiritually. Our best friends are those who help us spiritually.
I have enjoyed and will just share a little about precious things in these 2 letters of Peter. There are some very precious things which are mentioned and these are things which became more and more precious to Michelle and they can be very, very precious to us. We will just touch on 7 precious things which are not diminished in value by death. As we are gathered together here in the presence of death, we come to realize more the value of things whose value is not diminished by death and, if anything, increased.
1. First of all, Jesus is precious. In I Peter 2:6, we read: “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief
corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” We read that He was disallowed of men. They didn’t think that He was valuable, but He was chosen of God and precious. Jesus was precious to Michelle. With the passing of life’s experience and even there Friday night when loved ones could only go so far, Michelle would know, as the Lord had said (Heb. 13:5,6) “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper.” Sometimes we can hold someone’s hand in death and we can go no further, but the Lord can go with them through the experience of death. Jesus is precious in life. Jesus is precious in death. Jesus is precious on the judgment day and Jesus is precious for all eternity.
2. In I Peter 1:19 we read: “But that the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Not redeemed by gold or silver, but with blood, precious blood.” Not the blood of an animal, but by the precious blood of Christ. As we come to understand that we have sinned, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but there is a provision for sin and that provision is in Christ and that provision is through the shed blood of Christ. Jesus was willing to go to Gethsemane and to Calvary to shed his precious blood for your sin and my sin. Perhaps in a degree, we value that today, but perhaps as we stand before the judgment seat of God we will value all the more the precious blood of Christ.
3. Precious seed. In I Peter 1:23, we read of incorruptible seed, “...the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” Precious seed. And also to Michelle the gospel was precious. The gospel is the only seed that produces the fruit of the spirit for an eternal harvest. So, we are thankful for the precious seed. I had the privilege of being in this area 2 years previously (not this year, but 2 years previously) and Michelle she loved the gospel and listening to the precious seed. She wanted that seed to be planted in her heart. She wanted the fruit of the spirit in this life and for all eternity. We are thankful for the precious seed of the gospel, the words of Jesus.
4. Now, in I Peter 3:4 we read of the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” A precious spirit – a meek and a quiet spirit. Precious in the sight of God. Michelle desired that, that she would have a meek and quiet spirit. We know that is not held in esteem in the world. So often the world is loud and proud, but the spirit of God is meek and quiet. A precious spirit. We realize, especially at a time like this, that time is limited for the body, but the spirit goes on to God who gave it.
5. Precious brethren. In II Peter 3 we read a number of times there “beloved, beloved.” “Our beloved brother, Paul.” Over and over in Peter, it says “beloved.” The brethren were precious to him. And to Michelle, the brethren were precious to her. Precious brethren. We understand through the experiences of life and at a time like this the precious brethren and the wonder of that and the fellowship that is in that. I had the privilege of gathering in fellowship, sometimes around the emblems and sometimes in the home for bible study there with Andy and Michelle and they valued the brethren. They valued the fellowship. It was precious to them. Michelle was kingdom-minded. Michelle, she lived close to the Lord’s people and close to the kingdom. She lived close to the ministry with her sister, Shawna, in the ministry. It just brought her all the closer and then her younger brother is an elder of this Fellowship. And the closeness of that and a meeting in her parents home and then the privilege of bible study in their own home. She was kingdom-minded. Precious fellowship.
6. Precious faith. We are thankful for that. II Peter 1:1 we read: “...to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God.” Like precious faith. That brings us into harmony of spirit. That brings us into fellowship. Like precious faith. Precious seed bringeth like precious faith. We are thankful for times that we have felt our spirit blending with Michelle’s spirit and Andy’s and others of the family and others of our friends here. It is precious faith.
7. In closing, as Peter was nearing the end and he was not speaking or writing about earthly things. He was not speaking about a precious boat, or a precious catch of fishes or a trophy fish, but these things were so precious. In II Peter 1:4 – “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” So now, as we are gathered together here, precious promises. It is true that our thoughts go backward over life today, over the life of Michelle, over our own life, over our interaction, our association, our relationship with her. And it is good that our thoughts go backward over life, but God has also planned that today our thoughts would go forward and our thoughts DO go forward. Precious promises. What is the future for Michelle for all eternity? What is our future for all eternity? At this point, when we have been softened and in the presence of death, it is true that our thoughts go backward, but we are thankful that our thoughts can go onward and forward and upward and heavenward. We are increasingly thankful, as we lower another body into the grave because of death, for precious promises of that which goes beyond, far beyond. What God has planned goes beyond death and far, far beyond.
Perhaps just in closing, I would like to share a poem that has meant much to us and it was written by one of our friends when one that was very, very dear to her died.
The Song of the Redeemed
Oh glorious Savior, Redeemer Divine,
To think thou shouldst enter this poor house of mine.
To think that Emanuel ever could be,
The guest of a poor, dying sinner like me.
And now I would pour on Thy blest pierced feet,
The tears of repentance and gratitude sweet,
I would bring all the gifts of my love unto Thee,
Because Thou hast died for a sinner like me.
And when the accuser would speak in my ear,
The things that would fill me with doubt and with fear.
My fortress, my stronghold, my answer shall be,
That Thou Lord hast died for a sinner like me.
And when in the darkness, the black billows roll,
And the wild, raging storm would endanger my soul,
Oh blessed Redeemer, my anchor shall be,
That no one can perish by clinging to Thee.
And when the cold waters of Jordan draw nigh,
On what can this poor dying sheep then rely,
Ah, Shepherd of Israel, my last words shall be,
I thank Thee beloved for dying for me.
And when I must answer before the great throne,
Can I mention my service or gifts of my own,
No, this and this only can be my one plea,
Have mercy, Thou Just One, Thy son died for me.
For what is the song of the great ransomed throng?
Are they singing in heaven of what they have done?
No, this and this only is all their refrain,
All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain.
All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain.
Those first scriptures we were reading from speak that “To Him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
We can sing another hymn before closing in prayer. Again, all are welcome to enter into it.
#93 “Only One Life to Live.”
Everyone sang #78 “Lead Me On”
I know I counted it a great privilege to know Michelle and to be in their home with her and Andy. I know that for all of us we feel that way. She had a wonderful influence, a Godly influence, and she was an encouragement and she was an inspiration to all of us. When the news came to us of her passing, the first thing that came to my mind was I Corinthians 13 about what the love of God does and the marks that it creates in the lives of those that have it. So, let me just read a few of those verses. We will just mention those 7 qualities that charity is. “Charity suffereth long and is kind. Charity rejoiceth in the Truth. Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.” Like we have already heard, there was a time when the seed of faith through the gospel story was planted in Michelle’s heart, but we are thankful most of all that the love of God was present and it was visible and it was felt by all those that knew her. I always marveled at the love in their marriage, but I marveled more at the love that Michelle had in her heart for the God of heaven and because of that those marks were produced. I am thankful that those marks do not end at the grave, but the love of God it will continue and it is forever and I am thankful for that.