Monday, April 4, 2011

A testimony at the memorial service 4-3-11 for Martha Depp by Joanne Depp-a sister-in-law

Martha’s story begins and ends with Jesus.

Without question, Martha had a special relationship with Jesus, and we have been blessed by all she shared with us.

But - Martha would want us to know and remember that she did not have a special access to God that isn’t available to the rest of us.

She knew and believed that she was a child of God, and that that Jesus’ loving hands were always reaching out to her - regardless of what her emotions or feelings were telling her about God’s reach towards her.

And do you know what Martha did -- She reached back. She prayed and studied God’s word and knew Him and loved Him in his entirety and His enormity of character.

She believed word for word that God is who the Bible says He is, and did not discount any parts that were uncomfortable, even by today’s standards.

Martha would be the first person to tell you that she wasn’t perfect; but she would also be the first one to tell you that her God was.

She would say that she needed Jesus in every step to her Journey to the Door because she could not get there on her own; not in her own human flesh and weakness.

And God’s promises carried her through that door.

She believed with her whole heart that God would not leave her or forsake her.

She knew that she would pass through waters and fires, but would remain unconsumed and unburned.

She knew that she was precious to Jesus, and that He loved her, and that He would preserve her for eternity.

She knew that God had a purpose for earthly suffering, and trusted that He would work all things together for good.

She knew that Jesus was her rescuer and deliverer. And that one day, He would restore her body and soul to perfection.

She knew He had prepared a place for her in Heaven, and that He was the only one who could keep her in perfect peace while she waited for Him to come.

And she knew that nothing - not even cancer or the process of dying or even death itself - could ever snatch her out of God’s loving hands.

And how did Martha know and believe all these things?

She prayed and read her Bible and focused on God’s promises to her - I should mention even long before her diagnosis of cancer. God had blessed Martha by giving her ears to hear and a heart to trust in his promises long before cancer was in her body.

Martha will always be remembered for her inspiring story and her courage in the face of terminal illness, dying, and death.

But please - please - in your memories of Martha and in your re-telling of Martha’s story - Please do not forget the One who gave Martha her courage and strength and peace.

Martha said in her own words - “Anything good coming out of my terminal cancer is because of the transforming work of Jesus - there would be no good in it otherwise, not for me. Remember where the good stuff originates.”

So on behalf of Martha, I’m asking you to remember that the “transforming work of Jesus” was and is her story.

Martha ran to him and clung to him and loved him so closely - that in the fullness of her story, it was hard to distinguish between Martha and Jesus--

between her words and his promises;
between her faith and his strength;
between her obedience and his love.

This is why throughout Martha’s story with cancer, people would make comments to me like --“When I’m with Martha, I know God is there.”

and “I can’t wait to see what Martha writes next - why hasn’t she posted anything recently?”

and “Wow, she is such an inspiration - I could never have such courage!”

And while these things may be true, did you ever stop to wonder why so many of us clung to Martha and the story she told us?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that regardless if we realized it or not, it’s because we want to be with the One Martha was clinging to.

We want to know and hear Jesus like Martha did; and understand his peace like she did; and experience his love like she did.

Martha’s God is pretty appealing - afterall, Martha’s God is THE God of the universe. And Martha would tell us that we all have ACCESS to him; that his promises are for all who believe in him.

And though we are grieving Martha right now, we do not need to grieve the closeness of God’s presence we experienced while she was with us. God is still very present; still reaching out; still offering His promises to those who want them.

Martha brought us to our own Door of sorts, and she would encourage us now to reach back. Even if it’s just by starting with a simple prayer and asking God to help you believe the promises Martha proclaimed.

Or even by picking up your Bible and seeing God’s promises for yourself; seeing that they weren’t only written for Martha, but also for you and for me.

I can only tell you these things with this kind of boldness because this is the part of her story Martha so desperately wanted people to remember. Martha’s story is not HER story if we pass it down without naming Jesus as her Savior and Deliverer and source of all good things.

So my recounting this part of Martha’s story to you is my way of telling Martha thank you - thank you, Martha for sharing our God’s promises so that we can know Him and love Him better. Thank you, Martha, for making God real and tangible to so many of us. Thank you, Martha, for showing us that any goodness we have is only from the gifting of God.

And it is also a gentle reminder to all of us of Martha’s very own words. As she said, “Remember where the good stuff originates.”

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful words to live by and to keep Martha close. I miss her so... <3