Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. 8 Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 12 What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. 15 Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. 16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. 18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. 19 Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. 20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. 21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. 22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
This afternoon we gather to share memories and celebrate the life of Loretta Jo Markley, a cherished member of our family. Loretta, a busy mother and grandmother, also lead an active life of public service, having worked for many many years as a home health caregiver, asisting the elderly poor and those with severe special needs. Every day, many months without so much as a break, she travelled miles to work, leaving the comforts of her own home so that she could minister to the needs of those who could not tend to themselves. She comforted the afflicted, befriended the lonely, and restored dignity and humanity to multitudes of people who, if left without her care, would have simply lanquished in the dark and unmentioned corners of southern Ohio life. An unsung angel of mercy for so very many, if Loretta were assigned to a client in need, nutritious meals, hot baths, clean bedding, clean clothes, and clean and comfortable living spaces would follow closely behind. Her clients were in the best of hands. She would make certain of it each and every time, each and every day.
In the years leading up to Bill’s own serious health struggles, Loretta was also very active in the life of her church family. In fact, for many months, Loretta and Bill graciously opened their home, inviting the church to conduct services there while we searched for a permanent place to worship. She assisted the church with the purchase of our hymnals, was one of the “go to” cooks for our annual homecoming ham, and always knocked our socks off with her homemade cakes with homemade icing! One summer, she certified every woman in the church in CPR and first aid! She loved her church and only regretted not being able to participate more fully, given her very full plate of responsibilities.
You must understand that, for all the talk concerning Loretta’s contributions to her family, to her church, to her fellow man in general, none of these things made her or assured her of righteousness before Almighty God. Loretta not only knew this, she celebrated it! You see, Loretta knew the true and saving Gospel of God’s Sovereign Grace in Christ Jesus. She understood that nothing she did in this life procured any special favors from God. She knew her righteousness came from Christ alone, from His shed blood spilled for His people on that old rugged cross of shame. It was under this precious Gospel that Loretta was publically baptized, professing faith in Christ alone for all hope of Glory. She knew salvation was not by works of righteousness, but granted solely in Christ alone.
Earlier we read we read the words from Scripture, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.” Loretta was not a perfect human being – none of us have a right to that title. We each and everyone sin in word, thought, or deed, each and every day of our lives. We all fall short of the glory of God. We have no claim to perfection, no claim to personal holiness. We have no hope that we will ever please a holy God by our sin-cursed deeds. But Christ the Lord came to redeem poor and needy sinners by His own precious blood, covering the sin of His elect people once and for all. God’s people are not perfectly sinless – no! They rest in the perfect rightesouness of another – Jesus Christ, the holy One sent from God to bear the sins of His people.
“According to thy mercy remember thou me” is the heart’s cry of each and every person who knows God in the full pardon of his sins. “O Lord, have mercy on me!” And God does just that in the work of Christ the Lord. Hallelujah forevermore! Scripture comforts us, reminding the heartbroken that Loretta is even now in the hands of her heavenly Father, who has promised in the very words of Christ to never let us go! Consider these words from the Gospel of John:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.
Beloved, Loretta is in the grip of God’s grace, never to be let go! All because of Christ alone!
Do you know Christ? Notice, I did not ask if you sin or do things you know you ought not to do. I did not ask whether or not you pray, or give money to a church group, or wear certain clothes. I did not ask if you curse, smoke, or drink. I asked only if you know Christ? Do you know that He alone is your righteousness before the Holy God of Heaven? Do you trust in Christ alone for all hope of glory? Is Christ your only plea? Have you come to know Him as Savior of those who call on His Name?
Loretta knew Christ in pardoning mercy. She confessed publically that Christ was her savior, her righteousness, her only hope. Christ is no failure. As the Good Shepherd, Christ never lets loose any of His precious sheep. His people are eternally secure in His hands. To believe otherwise is to call God a liar and Christ a failure. Do you know this keeper of souls, this Savior Christ the Lord?
Christian do not mourn as those who have no hope. We know that a day is coming when our eyes shall behold the majesty and grandeur of our God. We shall behold our precious Savior, Christ the Lord. O beloved, we shall see our sainted loved ones again. Believe it. Rest in this truth, a truth more real than the very ground on which we stand, a truth more real than reality itself.
One day, we will see Loretta again. Not the suffering, frail, burdened Loretta of these last few months. We will see Loretta, glorified and made new: no more pain, no more tears, no more worries, no more death.
My earnest plea is that we cherish our fond memories, put away all temptation toward petty strife, cry real tears of mourning and of the joy that certainly awaits; that we honor her life, and by faith in Christ, look forward to seeing Loretta – and all our sainted loved ones – yet. Again.
This is not a final goodbye. Because of Christ’s victory over death, this is “we’ll meet again soon.”
Lord add blessings to your Word for Christ’s sake – Amen.
Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me;
I will never turn away anyone who believes in me.
He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead
will also give new life to our mortal bodies
through his indwelling Spirit.
My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life
through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty
God our sister Loretta, and we commit her body to the ground;
earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless
her and keep her, the Lord make his face to shine upon her
and be gracious to her, the Lord lift up his countenance upon
her and give her peace. Amen.
Jason K. Boothe serves as Senior Pastor to the congregation of Horizons Baptist Church, Piketon, Ohio. For more information concerning the ministries of the church, please visit www.horizonsbaptist.org.