We were greeted by a vase that simply held a few exquisite yellow roses. They were lying on a table as you entered the church, no fan fare, no collection of flower arrangements for everyone to stand around gazing at and critiquing. There was a cross about the size of an 8 × 10 picture frame, laying flat down on the table. Someone had made it from hand, with tons of colorful earrings, each one having different colored rocks and they were somehow strung together with a beautiful silver filigree broach in the center—where Jesus would have laid. Thus began the memorial for Linda Shultz, a woman that died a few short days ago of cancer.
One by one, a diverse group of folks walked up to the microphone to talk about a woman that had touched their lives. Each one’s testimonial tribute was more beautifully worded and heartfelt than the last! Linda had breathed life into their souls in a way that made them know, from their very core, she was sent from God and was destined to teach us all what it means to live in the likeness of our Savior. She gave, she laughed, she cared, and she prayed … oh, how she prayed. She put herself in the hands of doctors who knew not what they could do to keep her cancer growth at bay. Linda did it anyway to help others that might follow her footsteps, so that they might be able to live one day longer than she was able. That is what a true disciple of Christ does, gives to others with very little forethought to themselves.
The music began to play, at one point, and it was as if the angels in heaven were singing in chorus, too. Out rang words of streets bathed in gold in heaven and feet barely touching the ground, dancing as they realized they were close to meeting the Almighty Father and having life everlasting. What a perfect song choice for a woman who loved dance, was full of motion and loved to smile. The song made the entire crowd smile with joy …
As speaker after speaker got up this morning, in the front of a Baptist Church in Middle Tennessee, I tried hard to soak up all of the stories I was hearing. I listened and cried as I heard voices choking back sobs, saw tissues being passed down rows, total strangers embracing each other in mutual respect and love for this life. I watched in wonder, knowing full well that God was rejoicing in that everyone there really understood Linda’s wish; we knew Jesus was our savior and that He died for a reason. Where He went after he died on that cross was where our dear friend Linda was hanging out now. She had done all that was asked of her and more and there was not much more to say.
Close to the end of the memorial service a video screen came down. Music floated through the air as images of Linda flashed before our eyes. Black and white portraits of her as a child, her growing up, her doing somersaults, the blushing bride, the gushing mother holding her baby, and all the wonderful moments captured on film in her later days … as the music lifted our souls the pictures captured hers.
Yes, it was a touching memorial, one that was filled with scripture, as Linda would have wished. Mrs. Shultz was a true testimony of what God meant when He called us to love one another. At this event, Linda indeed had the best seat in the house. While we walked out the doors of that church at noon, with the sun glaring in our eyes, it was as if God was rejoicing in His beloved daughter being brought home. We all knew, as we left, we would never forget this day, or this life; Linda would stay alive in us all.