Didn't know why I was awake, so I asked my Lord, “Why am I awake?” I didn’t really expect an answer and thought I would soon be returning to bed. Instead, I was told to “Write.”
So I am writing about the one thing on my heart right now – the viewing service of Georgeanna Victoria Shores held last night in Marianna, FL about 20 miles away.
This viewing was the first one I have ever attended where no one cried. Not one person. Instead it was a celebration of 1) the life of Georgeanna Victoria Shores and 2) her relationship with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While these two things are listed separately, they are deeply intertwined.
You may read GA’s (that’s how I knew her, as GA or Georgeanna) obituary here or here.
In her obituaries you will find out she was only 66 years 7 months and 19 days old when she died. She spent 45 years of her life with my friend Lenny Shores – more on that later.
What you won’t find in the obituaries is that as she approached death, she wished she had been less of a Martha – see Luke 10: 38-42 here - and instead had spent more time in building her relationship with Jesus Christ. That was the message at the viewing last night for all of us in attendance and for those we will touch in the future.
What GA did not know, was that the testimonies given last night about her life demonstrated her relationship with Christ. GA loved sacrificially as Jesus did.
She brought His example into the lives of all her loved ones and also into those she did not know at all. She and Lenny had three sons and one of them spoke last night on how during the many moves they made as a Navy family and as a missionary family, never once did she complain about Lenny’s many deployments at sea for six, nine, or twelve months. Not once.
I met GA’s husband Lenny at Al Asad AB, Iraq in early 2008 – February or March. One day a few weeks after meeting Lenny, he was talking with GA on the phone and he called me over to the phone and said with an odd look on his face, “Georgeanna wants to talk with you.” I replied, “Are you sure?” He went back to the phone and asked, then handed the phone to me saying “Yes.”
After confirming who I was she made the statement, “You are the man I have been praying Lenny would meet in Iraq.” How could that be, I wondered and asked. She replied, “I – and my church – have been praying Lenny would meet a Godly man in Iraq, a man who loves the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Suddenly I understood. Lenny and I had had already had a number of theological discussions with many disagreements (what do you expect when you put a Pentecostal and a Southern Baptist together), but one central area of agreement – Jesus Christ was his and my Lord and Savior.
I did not consider myself then or now a Godly man, but instead a struggling sinner who knew (knows) Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. Finding a real (serious) Christian brother (or sister) in Iraq was not an easy task other than the Navy Chaplin there. Then I met Lenny and he was the Godly man put into my life ... via GA's prayers.
But I digress. You see it was GA’s love for Christ and her love for her husband and her concern about his walk with Christ that led her to pray that he would find a Christian brother who would be a friend while in Iraq. Because of GA’s love for Christ and her forthright prayers, Lenny and I became friends. We remain friends, loyal friends, to this day.
During GA’s last visit to her church she was no longer able to walk and arrived in a wheelchair. I don’t know if this was her “Last Good Day” – something you may read about here, but something unusual and special happened a little later in the service.
Georgeanna got out of wheelchair and did not simply stand, but danced with the joy of knowing Jesus and asked the pastor for permission to address the congregation.
Her address was one of of the need to love and love deeply and her hope that all would come to know Jesus and join her in heaven with Him. Left me to wonder what I will be doing and saying on my Last Good Day.
She selected a number of songs to bring her love for Jesus to the forefront for everyone at her viewing – a viewing where I observed no one filing past her casket.
The songs were
Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord
I Sing Praises to Your Name
Lord Be Glorified
Change My Heart Oh God
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
However, she had also asked that all of her grandchildren and family would sing a special song to her and for her that she and everyone used to sing at Christmas to Lenny’s mother.
This song, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” reflects the very real joy she experienced in this life in her faith walk. A joy that only hints at the joy she is now experiencing in eternity with Christ - a joy shes wants for everyone.
I will think often on how GA lived her life and the many testimonies of her children, mother-in-law, grandchildren, and others. And one day I expect to meet her again in Heaven.
It's now almost 6:00 a.m. in Chipley, Florida and I intend to grab another hour of sleep. Have a Good day.