This past week I had the pleasure of celebrating the home going of Mrs. Minnie Hawthorne-Ewing, the Mom of one of my closest friends, Cheryl. It’s strange, I know, for me to describe attending what most call a “funeral” as a pleasure. After all, none of us enjoy losing the people we love. But when it’s a person like Ms. Minnie, you understand that death is not a loss but a win, for finally she was home to live with God.
I know heaven must have erupted in a praise fest when Ms. Minnie arrived! God was welcoming one of his faithful children, and she finally got to see Him face to face. That must have been a Hallelujah-good party! I can see her now, dancing up and down those streets of gold.
Oh but wait, many of you don’t know her, do you? You’re wondering why I’m going on and on about someone you’ve never met. Well let me tell you a bit about her. First off, she was a Godly woman, unapologetic and unafraid of sharing her relationship with her Lord. At 69, she was still serving as a Pastor, Writer, TV Host and Entrepreneur, using every avenue she could to share her faith, and shower those around her with love. In fact, love seemed to be the very essence of what she was about.
That’s why when they called for remarks at the home going, scores of people lined up to speak about how they had been touched by her radiance. Her bright smiles, infectious laughter, and warm hugs had a way of drawing people in. But it was her love and straight talk – encouraging and admonishing – that made them come back for more. Because here’s the thing – no one ever ‘met’ Ms. Minnie. You had an encounter. And if you paid close attention, you were the better for it.
She was just that kind of woman, a force of nature, submitted to her God and committed to her calling. Didn’t have a perfect life – she said goodbye to two husbands before she went home – but she was perfectly content to do His will. And she did it with everything she had, for as long as she could. There was no retiring from your calling for Ms. Minnie. She was in it to win it until the end.
Which is why in the days since her home going, her life has caused me to think about my own. I wonder, when I go to heaven, what will people say about me? Will my home going be a celebration, knowing that I did everything I could, while I could, to fulfill the call God has placed on my life? Or will I leave some things undone?
Really heavy questions, right? And kind of tough to answer, because the truth is, we have no way of knowing or controlling what people will say about us. All we can do is use the time we have to do the work he placed in front of us, and let Him handle the rest.
I know that’s what Ms. Minnie did. She lived and loved as God commanded. In fact, when you look at her legacy, it’s clear that she took that first and most important commandment serious – To love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. This is what set her apart, and provides us with some important lessons on how to live. Check them out and see if you agree.
She loved God, publicly. Ms. Minnie was never embarrassed about her faith. When I look at some of us 40-somethings I’m struck by how often our quest for success has caused us to be shamefully quiet about our faith. We don’t want to be seen as overly religious, but still want God to let blessings overflow in our lives. Hmm….
She loved His people, passionately. A lady I met at the celebration said I’m really going to miss her. I finally found someone who saw me for who I am, and told me the truth in love. Isn’t that an incredible gift? To be seen and heard is really all most people want, and yet so often we get too busy to even acknowledge each other…
She loved her family, fiercely. At the celebration, her daughter Lynette talked about how Ms. Minnie was both her Mom and her Pastor, two separate roles intertwined in one soul. Both manifested in love, but differently. There’s a message in that about allowing God to use us for whatever purpose he sees fit, regardless of our position…
She loved herself, humbly. See that photo at the top? That’s Cheryl and me with our Moms. Ms. Minnie is in the blazer, wearing her ‘casual’ clothes. She didn’t care that the rest of us were in t-shirts. She loved and accepted herself for who God made her, and challenged the rest of us to do the same…
She loved life, abundantly. So often we equate abundance with money and things, but not Ms. Minnie. Her life was full and rich because she had the joy of Jesus, a peace that surpassed all understanding, and a limitless love that only God can give. That’s real wealth – the kind that hard times and trouble can’t take away.
Oh, what a life! I will surely miss Ms. Minnie. Going to serve at the food pantry that Cheryl started in her honor will never be the same without her. But I’m so glad that God allowed her to come my way, and to experience her love in action.
I’m also grateful that I was able to share a bit of her life lessons with you. Because now, we can together, carry her legacy of love forward. You see, at the end of the day, what we loved about Ms. Minnie was the God in her. And the same God that lived in her abides in us too. The question is, will we allow Him to use us for His glory?
I pray so, because He has a plan for each of us that is far beyond what we can hope or imagine. Let’s trust Him, surrender to our calling and experience our own life, abundantly!
Hugs and Love
PS – If you’d like to join Ms. Minnie’s family in serving the needs of the hungry, please consider making a donation to Minnie’s Food Pantry (http://minniesfoodpantry.org). Since it’s inception, they’ve served over 260,000 meals, and the need continues to grow. Don’t miss this opportunity to spread the love, and serve the hungry!