Wilma Wyman

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Ecclesiastes 12:1–7 (NIV84)
1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
I have recently seen a TV commercial that involves three elderly women who are at a sledding hill. One of them decides it would be good for them to go sledding like they did when they were children. So she orders a seat cushion through Amazon Prime and within a day or two they have placed them on their sleds and are gleefully sliding down the hill. As they go down the hill, the picture transforms them into what they would have looked like when they had been children and the joy they had in their youth. The message could be a profound statement . . . instead of an ad to have you join Amazon Prime.
The video editing which transformed these elderly women into their youth reminds me of what really happens in life.
Our youth transforms into old age.
Remember your creator in the days of your youth before . . . In this passage Solomon poetically describes the aging process. Elsewhere an often repeated comparison is made between how we age and how the grass and flowers that once flourished soon whither.
Psalm 102:11 NIV84
11 My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
Isaiah 40:6–8 NIV84
6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
1 Peter 1:22–25 NIV84
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
None of us were around when Wilma was a youth. We may have a good idea of what it must have been like for her as a little child because we too were once little children. In connection with our faith, this time of year reminds us of the joy and excitement we had in celebrating the birth of Jesus. Many of us participated in our congregations’s Christmas Eve program and sang those familiar Christmas songs, listened and had recitations from Luke 2 (And they wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.), perhaps wore costumes and received after the worship service that bag of peanuts, nuts, hard candy, an apple, an orange, and a popcorn ball. (Angel food?) We remember the childlike faith we had in Jesus and the exuberance of celebrating the Savior born in the manger who loves us so dearly.
But we may also remember in our teen age years that not all was joy and happiness at Christmas. I remember caroling once in high school. We had enough shut ins right in our town of 1500 people that we walked to their homes and had some fun throwing snowballs at each other. But when we sang at the home of Roy Mathweg the beloved song “Silent Night”, I was disturbed to witness a grown man crying. I didn’t ask him why he was crying but I think we know why. As he listened to a hymn he had known from his youth (often in church), he was filled with God’s love for him and also the realization that the Christmas’s of his youth were over for him . . . as were many other blessings of youth. He had become old, infirm, and his mortality was becoming more and more evident.
In the expected course of events, children become teenagers, teenagers become vibrant, hard working adults, and vibrant, hard working adults become aged, infirm, and wither away and eventually die. It is some would say “the circle of life”.
Solomon writes on this in his passage encouraging us to remember our creator in the days of our youth. In his descriptive passages on the aging process, he also emphasizes that when we are young, vibrant, vital and energetic, the truth we learn and believe will sustain us even though we do become old. And the longer we live, the older we get.
And so we are here today because that is what happened to Wilma. As her family, you have strong recollections of her vibrant, energetic adult years and how vital she was for so long. But you also have witnessed what is often repeated in the Bible “The grass withers and the flowers fade”. Although we may dream of eternal youth or going back to the way things were when we were young (like sledding), we realize that this is not the normal course of events.
Or is it? While it is true that death is certain (the Bible teaches that it is the result of sin) and that as we grow older we become more infirm, the Bible also teaches that because of what God did (sending the promised Savior), there is a future for all Christians who trust in God.
Psalm 103:1–5 NIV84
1 Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Isaiah 40:30–31 NIV84
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Matthew 19:28–29 NIV84
28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
2 Corinthians 4:13–18 NIV84
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Wilma had such a faith in Jesus and we trust is even now experiencing the joy of salvation with renewed strength and that when Jesus returns, we will raise and glorify her body.
Philippians 3:20–4:1 NIV84
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
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