My dear friend, Linda Long, went to be with the Lord early Tuesday morning. Today, I spoke at her funeral. Today’s blog contains pretty much what I said. It is my tribute to a special friend.
I’ve always known Linda. We started first grade together. We played together as children. We sat together on the bus and graduated from high school together. We had stuff in common. We had common interests and common talents and abilities.
One of the talents that we shared was artistic ability. Linda was an artist and she was one of the most creative people I have ever known. The thing about Linda was that she was not selfish with her creative abilities. She always used them to bless others.
Another thing that we shared was a love of nature. We both loved the outdoors. Right after high school Linda had a job helping to build the Wild Azalea Trail. I don’t know how many times that we sat and talked about the beautiful world that God created for us. We talked about how enjoying his creation is an act of worship, and how it must sadden God when we are too busy to stop and look at all that He has made for us.
We shared the love of animals. When we were growing up, her family had a big scruffy dog named Smut. I am telling the truth…when I would visit Linda, Smut would lick me and then belch. I wasn’t sure if he did it because I tasted good or I gave him indigestion. I can’t tell you how many times she paraded people around my property to see my animals. One time she called me and asked if I would bring my pair of Malaysian Serama chickens to her house when I came to visit. She loved my goats. Once I called and asked if she could come over and help me trim my goat’s hooves. She told me that she would, but wanted to know what she should wear to something like that. I told her that I didn’t know, I had never been to a goat hoof trimming before and that I was sure that what she had on would be just fine.
We even went to the same gym and had the same personal trainer. His name is Jeremy. She and Jeremy enjoyed each other. They picked, they fussed and there were some days that they entertained the other clients. Jeremy always wanted Linda at the gym thirty minutes early so she could do her cardio first. He would check the parking lot to make sure her car was there. She called him the Parking Lot Buzzard.
I don’t remember us ever being mad at each other having cross words. There were times when we weren’t in contact with each other, but there never was a time when we weren’t friends.
We had stuff in common, but the most important, the most special thing that we had in common, was a personal relationship with Jesus. A couple of years ago she called and said that she was told that I did one on one Bible studies, and would I do one with her. I told her yes and that I would love to do that. We set a time and a day and made a standing appointment every week to visit and talk about God. We both agreed that this was one of the best decisions that we had ever made. Friendships are good, but friendships with God at the center are even better.
One of the things that we did was to read The Purpose Driven Life together. As a matter of fact, we had started it a second time. She called her copy the traveling book because she took it with her to the many appointments that they had to go to. That’s mostly when she would read. She even took it with her to Shreveport last week. We would read a section of the book during the week and when we got together we would talk about what the Lord had taught us and share parts of the book that had ministered to us.
In her book Linda wrote some personal things. She also highlighted, underlined and circled things that were important to her. I went through her book and copied down some things that she had written and highlighted….things, that when put together, make up her testimony…things I believe that she would want us to know today. Here they are.
God is the center of my life. God and family are the driving forces of my life. I want to become the person that God wants me to be. I want to be able to stand in front of God on judgment day and be proud that I have become the person that God is proud of and says to me, “Enter my Kingdom-child of God!” I want to make God smile!
Christianity is not a religion or a Philosophy, but a relationship and a lifestyle. The core of that lifestyle is thinking of others as Jesus did instead of ourselves. It is impossible to do everything people want you to do, you have just enough time to do God’s will. What ultimately matters most will not be what others say about your life but what God says. Every human being was created by God, but not everyone is a child of God. The only way you get into God’s family is by being born again into it. Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family; only faith in Christ does. Whenever you feel unimportant, unloved or insecure, remember to whom you belong. Being included in God’s family is the highest honor and greatest privilege you will ever receive. If you have a relationship with God through Jesus, you don’t need to fear death. It will be the last hour of your time on earth, but it won’t be the last of you. No mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has made ready for those who love the Lord.