To anyone who knew her there was nothing unusual about Jo. I don’t say that to demean her, simply to point out that she was just like most of us. To the people in our church she was the little lady who sat on the back pew, coming and going quietly – to some almost invisible. Even some of our people don’t know why Jo sat in the back. Her husband had suffered a stroke several years ago and he found it hard to maneuver in crowds of people, so sitting in the back each Sunday was easier and safer for him. When he passed away in September of last year Jo continued to sit in that familiar place. I think she found comfort there.
Jo was not an up-front person. In the time that I knew her she never sang a solo, taught a ladies bible class or spoke in public. But neither did she complain about her life, criticize other people or cause trouble. She always had a smile on her face no matter how she felt and she was always in church as long as her health allowed her to be there.
People often talk about lessons that they have learned from the lives of great people. I want to share with you some lessons that I learned from Jo.
1. Quiet faithfulness is better than occasional flamboyance.
The people in our churches who garner most of the attention are the ones who can give a powerful testimony or those with beautiful voices or those who have the gift of teaching. Unfortunately those same people sometimes lack faithfulness. You can count on them when they are up front but not at other times. There is something to be said for simple faithfulness to God. When God wanted to commend Moses it was his faithfulness above everything else that He pointed out: He is faithful in all my house (Numbers 12:7). Give me quiet faithfulness over occasional flamboyance any day.
2. There is more in (the Christian) life to smile about than to complain about.
It seems like the complainers in life (and the church) get all of the attention. No one pays attention to the little lady on the back pew who never gripes about the sermon or complains that the service was too long or the a/c was too cold. In comparison to our sins forgiven, a God who cares for us and a church family who loves us, the things we normally complain about are trivial in nature. The Apostle Paul, who knew a little bit about suffering referred to the sufferings of his life as our light affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17). Most of us really don’t have much to complain about.
3. We all need to learn to love our church.
On Sunday as people reminisced about Jo, one of the memories they had was how much she loved our church. When people tried to talk her into going to another church, she refused. When she did sewing for people she would often tell them to put the money in the offering instead of taking payment for her work. As much as her health would allow she attended every service and every activity, even if it was just to sit and watch other people enjoying themselves. In Ephesians 5:25 we’re told that Christ . . . loved the church [so much that he] gave Himself for her. As Christ-followers we are to love what Christ loves and He loved nothing on earth more than the church.
Jo passed away on Friday, the same way that she lived – quietly. She will be missed by the people of our church.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Stay in the Word