On Saturday [re-published from Oct 2015] I spoke at the memorial service for a friend who lost her battle with cancer this summer. It was sad to lose such a vibrant, dynamic person. And I have to admit, that as a pastor, speaking at memorial services is not typically my favorite part of the job. Yet it was a great privilege to speak at this service. Why? Because I got to honor my friend, Diana, by sharing some important truth about her faith and her God.

Before I spoke, we listened to a clip of the old song, “Precious Lord” that says, “Take my hand, Precious Lord, take my hand.” Diana didn’t just pray that, she experienced it. She told me toward the end that there were times when the pain was so excruciating that she couldn’t do anything but hold Jesus’s hand. Now, friends, that’s a faith that’s real. That’s a relationship with Jesus that isn’t based on comfortable circumstances or getting what you want from God. It’s not a religion of trying to earn God’s favor. It’s a personal relationship of receiving comfort from, and experiencing the presence of, the God who loves us. It’s experiencing the words I read from the Psalms: “The Lord is with me; he is my helper.”

Reach Out in Faith

Sure, Diana had had her regrets, but she had experienced the freedom and peace that comes with knowing that her sins had been forgiven, because Jesus died for her and rose from the dead like the Scriptures say, and God loved her and accepted her. Those are powerful words that she believed—God loved her and accepted her because of Jesus. She was trusting in Him. She was holding his hand. She had experienced His grace. I wish we all could have the kind of close, personal relationship with Jesus that Diana developed. In fact, we can. Diana wanted me to share that each one of us can reach out for the hand of Jesus to hold us. You can experience His forgiveness, acceptance, and love just like Diana did. Just ask Him and reach out to Him in faith. Then you, too, will be able to say like the Psalmist and Diana, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” It was a blessing for me to get to see Diana’s relationship to God up close. And her memory will continue to inspire me to stay close to Jesus. I hope it inspires you, too.