When asked to do a funeral, I often look for clues to help me say something personal others would easily identify with. Recently, one family who lost their mother knew exactly what to give me: her Bible. Lucy Smith’s Bible was full of notes, encouraging letters and cards, recipes and other clues that told me so much about this spirited woman, her passionate love for God and her three extraordinary sons.
On page one was a personal note to her children: “God loves you. He’ll give you life everlasting, if you only believe. Yes, there is a God. I know. Without Him life would be nothing. He is a part of my life and every night I talk to Him as I am talking to you now. His love is with us all the time. He will get you safely out of a storm regardless how rough. He’ll be there. Just reach out. He will always hear you.”
Lucy Smith often raised and supported her three sons alone yet in the midst of long days and many struggles she still managed to openly display love and affection. One of her Bible bookmarks was a simple cross stitch: “Smile: God loves you.” Elsewhere she wrote: “What must I do to be saved? Love thy neighbor. Help and be a brother to him. Love thy Lord thy God with all your heart. Pray for the whole world every day. Love thy neighbor.” For Lucy, loving your neighbor was the primary focus.
Yet at times Lucy must have felt guilty being so busy with working and raising children with little time to spare to enjoy them. Hence the poem by an unknown author carefully tucked between the pages:
“My hands were busy through the day; I didn’t have much time to play the little games you asked me to. I didn’t have much time for you. I’d wash your clothes; I’d sew and cook; But when you’d bring your picture book and ask me please to share your fun, I’d say: ‘A little later, son.’ For life is short, the years rush past; A little boy grows up so fast. No longer is he at your side, his precious secrets to confide. The picture books are put away; there are no longer games to play. My hands, once busy, now are still. The days are long and hard to fill. I wish I could go back and do the little things you asked me to.”
Amidst “Praise the Lord Anyhow!” stickers and four-leaf clovers, Lucy sensed she was leaving behind a legacy for her children to follow within the pages of this Bible. She wrote: “My children are all my life. I love each one as I do the other. I would give my life for them and my grandchildren. God knows I love every one of them. I would give all my treasure to the God who made it all possible.”
Lucy also marked Scripture passages. This one was displayed as her favorite: “Continue to love each other with true Christian love. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, as though you feel their pain in your own bodies. Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.’ That is why we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid.’” (Portions of Hebrews 13:1-6)
Yet, what makes Lucy’s life memorable were the letters left behind for her children. Maybe, sensing her own ending she wrote the following poem: “Remember when Mama used to be young and spry: bake lots of cookies and sugar cream pies? She helped with our lessons and sewed our busted jeans; kissed away our troubles and mended all our dreams. It’s strange how we all thought she’d never wear out. She walks with a cane because of rheumatism no doubt. Her eyesight is faded and her memories are dim. She often insists on the silliest of whims. When folks grow old they need so much more care. Mama must have a home but the question now is where? Does anyone want her?”
Here was her answer: “Yes, there is one willing to give her a place in the sun where there will be no heartache, no wonder or doubts and she won’t have any troubles to worry about. We will all miss her soft voice and kind loving face. Mama has a new home now for God has prepared a special place.”
She marked one Scripture passage for her funeral: “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth! He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” (Portions of Psalm 121)
Through the pages of her worn Bible, Lucy Smith left behind a priceless legacy and also offered reassurance for her family. The letters and poems along with her notes and underlined Scripture serve as timeless reminders of her love and devotion to God and to her children.
Lucy herself said it best: “God loves you. He’ll give you life everlasting, if you only believe. Yes, there is a God. I know. Without Him life would be nothing. He is a part of my life and every night I talk to Him as I am talking to you now. His love is with us all the time. He will get you safely out of a storm regardless how rough. He’ll be there. Just reach out. He will always hear you.”