“And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” ~Revelation 14:13
A dear lady from my sister’s church passed away last week. I attended Faith Baptist Church when I was a teenager, and God used that ministry greatly in my life. Mrs. Steuerwald was such an example to me during that time. My parents and I went to her funeral service on Tuesday night, and it was such a blessing to remember her life here and know that she is in Heaven right now.
At the service, Pastor Ohman talked of how Mrs. Steuerwald was the church member every pastor wants at their church. She was always an encouragement to him, she cleaned the church, was church secretary, played the piano and organ for services, helped in various ways at the school and so much more. She was always willing to take on something behind the scenes. And she did it all as if it wasn’t a burden to her. During my senior year at the school, Mrs. S. took it upon herself to make sure that the three seniors there would still have memorable moments. Even though the school was extremely small, she helped us put together a yearbook and even talked Pastor into letting us have a “Senior Skip Day.” And you know what? Those were very wonderful memories to look back on as I reflected on her life.
What’s more, Mrs. Steuerwald and her husband were missionaries in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to Papua, New Guniea. You could tell that she still had a passion for the people – for all people. I am not trying to put Mrs. S on a pedestal, but she is one of those people whose life should be exemplified as what a servant of Christ should be. (Philippians 3:17)
As I sat in that service on Tuesday, the thought crossed my mind, “Who is going to fill her shoes?” We have many elderly people at our church who are still very active in ministry… eventually the Lord will call them home as well. Who will fill in the gap they leave behind? Everyone seems so absorbed in their own agendas, their own families, their own lives. But people like Mrs. S. saw that there was one overriding priority – Jesus Christ.
We who believe in Christ are promised that if we have faith as a tiny mustard seed that we can do great things for the Lord. (Matthew 17:20) It really doesn’t take much. We make a lot of excuses for why we cannot do things: lack of time, lack of talent, lack of energy or health. But it really comes down to not believing that God will make up for what we lack.
Stephen and I are privileged to come from ministry-oriented families. Our grandparents have a lot in common, because they have both been faithful pastors for most of their adult life. They both still minister for the sake of the gospel where they can. And I know that if you asked them if their labors in the Lord are worth it, they would say, “Absolutely.” Why? Because a life lived for the worthy God is worthy of all our efforts. It is its own reward.
This very day, Mrs. Steuerwald is experiencing the rewards of her labor. She is in Heaven, but Heaven itself is not part of the reward because our labors do not earn us a place there. BUT I have no doubt in my mind that she has a beautiful mansion and many crowns to cast at the feet of our Lord. She has no pain, no tears, and has been reunited with loved ones who went before her. Every faithful servant can expect those things after leaving this world. I am sure she would say that every exhaustion, frustration, and disappointment in ministry was worth it.
For those of us who have or lack time, talent, energy or health – Is Christ worthy? Look at the senior saints around you… are you willing to fill in the gap when the Lord calls them home? Christ talks about how few laborers there are; are you going to be part of the problem or the solution? Christ is certainly worthy and the rewards waiting in Heaven for the faithful are just the “icing on the cake.”