“We are a resurrection people, and our song is ‘Alleluia’.” So spoke St. Augustine some 1,500 years before. During the last three months I have experienced the power of these words in the lives of three beloved people, all who lived “resurrection lives” on earth and who now live eternally resurrected lives in heaven.
The common feature of these three people is that during their lives on earth they all possessed the three things for which all the world’s people search but seldom attain: intimacy, fruitfulness and joy. (See John chapter 15)
First is my sister, Sarah Isabel Stainback, who passed away peacefully at age 95. In a world where love alone is credible, Sarah lived a life of nearly unconditional love. She enjoyed intimacy with her Lord, and this made possible her amazing intimacy with her family and with her multitude of friends. She blessed the world with her art, as well as with her generosity and self-giving spirit. And her song was “Alleluia!” She was fruitful, she was filled with joy.
Second is Rev. Sam Shik Lim. We have been co-workers for many years, beginning back in Korea when he was young. He suffered from infantile polio that worsened in his fifties until his body became fully paralyzed and resulted in a fatal heart attack. Sam Shik was a man of great joy who ministered to people around the world with the Father’s Heart of love. He never called attention to his pain, which was severe; instead, he brought great freedom to people who were bound. He was loved by everyone, and his fruit endures. His song is Alleluia.
Third is Mary Park Christie, whom Stanford University named the high school math teacher of the year some time ago. Ellen and I knew Mary when she was a young student at Rutgers University, where we ministered to students. She was remarkable then, and 25 years later she has remained the same remarkable lady, loving wife and mother of two small children aged 11 and 9. Mary fought cancer for over eight years, rejoicing and praising her Lord each day. She seemed to rejoice even more when her pain was most severe. She never departed from that intimate place of fellowship with her Lord. She continued to teach her students beyond her physical limitations; great numbers of former students have become world-class scholars because of Mary’s commitment. But it was her love and care, her unwillingness to give up, her search for Truth and her ability to make it known, that the more than five hundred people who attended her memorial service remember. Mary died in her prime, 46 years young. But she is alive today, singing Alleluia with Sarah, with Sam Shik, with all the saints made righteous, and with the hosts of angels around the Throne.