Saturday, May 19, 2012

Emma Pridgen Skinner

What I said about Mrs. Emma Skinner today at her funeral.
It has been my misfortune not to have known Mrs. Emma Skinner as a vibrant, active lady of faith in Jesus Christ. I really wish I had. She was dearly loved by her family as a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandma.
She was deeply committed to her daughters and her family. She was careful over them and protected them. Her deep love for her children is seen in a great tragedy in her life. Since December of 1950 until the day she passed over into the loving care of Christ, Mrs. Emma longed for her first child, a beautiful daughter who was so unnecessarily stillborn. She was not allowed to hold or see her precious little one then, and that ache never went away for her. One example of Mrs. Emma’s love for her family is best seen in an exhortation she constantly gave to her daughters in their relationships with others. She told them, “Wear a smile. You don’t know who needs it. They will see your Lord in it.”
Mrs. Emma was also committed to her church here for many years, serving in many capacities, but she greatly enjoyed singing in the choir. The congregational song we sang a few minutes ago, “My Jesus I love Thee” speaks of her testimony and life commitment to her Lord.  
Mrs. Emma’s life verse was Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Mrs. Emma lived that verse before her family and friends. And she believed in the indestructibility of Christ’s Bride, the Church. She believed firmly in Christ’s declaration in Matthew 16, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That indestructible nature of the church was because of love – because, as Paul tells us in the first letter to the Corinthinans, love never fails. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

For many years Mrs. Emma has been locked in her earthly tent, unable to communicate or see well or participate in life. Her family has endured and suffered along with her. When I would visit her at the nursing home, she would often be asleep or not respond at all. Sometimes when my whole family would come she would perk up when I would pick up each of the children and let her see them. But one day a couple of weeks ago, I was with Mrs. Emma in her hospital room. Like usual, she was unresponsive. I knew she loved the Lord, so I read some Scripture from one of the Psalms before I prayed with her.

Halfway through the passage, Mrs. Emma was startled and opened her eyes, eyes that I am told were mostly blind. Her eyes began to track something across the ceiling, but it seemed she was focused beyond the ceiling. Then a smile came over her face, a bright smile. I stopped reading and asked her, “Mrs. Emma, do you see something?” As clearly as I have yet heard her say any word, with a brightly shining face, she answered me, “Yes!”

“What do you see, Mrs. Emma?” I asked her. Her face simply continued shining brightly, and her smile continued, and her eyes tracked back to the left across and beyond the ceiling, and then again to the right. Then I remembered she was probably not going to answer me in detail. So I asked her, “Mrs. Emma, do you see angels?”

The fact that she responded again was trumped by what she said, “Ohh, yes!”

When Mrs. Emma entered into Glory, I believe she met and held her long lost daughter and her mourning turned to dancing. But beyond that beautiful little girl, she met and was herself held by her loving Jesus. And in His care she will remain forevermore.