The following are excerpts from the messages given at the funeral by the following speakers. These were interspersed with tears, songs and praise.
The Uncertainty Of Life Rev. E. E. Shelhamer
Life is likened to several things: To a vapor that appears for a moment -- then it is gone; to the waving green grass of the field that is soon cut down and withered; to a beautiful flower that sheds forth a pleasant fragrance, then fades and is cast aside. Yes, life is a mystery. There are many things concerning life and death which we cannot fathom. For instance:
We can easily understand why a deformed or idiotic child should be taken out of a world of suffering; and we can readily see why a sickly and crushed wife might be taken from a brutal husband; or we can see the wisdom of God in translating a dear old saint who has accomplished his life's work and is fully ripened for Heaven.
But, I cannot fully comprehend why one who was clearly called to win souls, then spent a great deal of time and money in preparation for that work, should be called away, just as she was beginning to enter upon life's work, and was recognized as a success by everyone who heard her sing, pray and preach. For such an one, on the threshold of a joyful and useful life, to be prematurely cut down -- I confess this is hard to understand. I find no rebellion, but am completely crushed while waiting patiently for an explanation.
Many passages of Scripture are comforting, but Isaiah 57:1 gives me the most satisfaction, namely, "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come." We do not readily consider that God in mercy may see best to kiss away a life from the unseen evil down the pathway of life. It seems to be beyond our comprehension.
We are so finite that we cannot see very far; hence poor humanity has tried to fix it up and extend out vision. We call it "extension life." We have the microscope to magnify at close range, and the telescope to see out yonder, things that we could not otherwise behold. We have also other extensions, to our hearing, namely, the radio and the telephone, by which we can hear thousands of miles.
In like manner, faith has an extension; our precious, sweet girlie, Evangeline, is perhaps now looking over the battlements of glory, and saying to her fond papa, "What are you weeping about? I have laid aside the telescope and the radio; you are still using them, but I am 'face to face' with my Lord. You now 'see through a glass darkly,' but shortly you, with me, will see Him 'face to face.' Why should you ask me to come back and use these cheap inventions of man? I am 'face to face.'
We had a beautiful little garden at our home. There were several nice flowers therein, but the Master-Gardener came along the other day and plucked the rarest flower. He had a perfect right to do so; perhaps He wanted to decorate a little in Heaven.
More than eighteen mouths ago we made a present of our first-born child to a gifted and noble young man -- Rev. Walter Surbrook. On his recent birthday, March 4, he would have naturally expected a gift, but, instead of receiving one, he gave to his Lord the best he had. God bless you, my magnanimous son, and give something back to you more precious than you have given to Him!
Just as a money lender sometimes recalls a loan, for he wants to get a higher rate of interest, so our Lord recalled the lovely child He had loaned to us for some twenty-five years. He had a perfect right to recall this loan that He might receive more glory. In due time we hope to fully comprehend this mysterious providence.
I hesitate to speak, for this sorrow is doubly hard on my husband. His precious first wife died in like manner. Somehow I feel like praising the Lord, for I believe that Jesus has taken Evangeline from a world of suffering, as much as I wanted her with us. Many prayers have been prayed for her healing, but it seemed that nobody was able to get hold of God for her. When husband heard of this sorrow he was overpowered with grief, and Tuesday night, twenty hours after Evangeline went to Heaven, I knelt by the side of our bed, and prayed, "Dear Lord, my husband can't stand this (he was getting stiff, his heart was paining him), wilt Thou please give him, tonight, a sight of the other world and let him see Evangeline?" He didn't say anything of my rather simple prayer.
I was in a sound sleep, and about 5:00 o'clock the next morning he awakened me with a joyful expression: "Julia, I have seen Evangeline." I was not surprised, for I knew God would answer, and I said, "Tell me! tell me!"
"Oh, it was in a great auditorium where the saints were gathered, all dressed in white. There was a sea of faces and the saints were placed in the auditorium according to their rank; the most spiritual were in the front. Evangeline was dressed in white and was sitting next to the front seat, (mature, though young). As I watched her, she arose to testify, but she was so short the people could not see her. The leader, who seemed to be Jesus Christ, or some one from the other world, beckoned to Evangeline to come to the platform, and said, Evangeline, come up higher!'"
Brothers Shelhamer and Surbrook, after talking with you this morning I went home to pray. I have been sitting here and listening, and when Sister Shelhamer and her dear sister brought this climax it seemed to me that if our sister Evangeline could speak, she would say, "Brother Finch, give somebody a chance to get right with God." I believe nothing would please Heaven more than to see some student or some relative kneel in the midst of this beautiful display of flowers, and say an everlasting yes to God.
I have felt the breeze from angel's wings this afternoon, one minute a praise to the Lord, and next a sob. God is here! He is saying, "Come unto me," and if this departed soul could speak she would say, "Come now and give your heart to Jesus."
Many Scriptures come to me, and the first one is concerning the return of our Lord, "Watch, for ye know not in what hour your Lord doth come." Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Evangeline, that beautiful, brown-haired preceptress, would be lying here this afternoon. We thought it would be some of these neighbors, some that are getting gray. Today some young woman will go, and tomorrow another. They will be going as the days come and go. Everything has been saying through these lilies and roses that death is like a voice out in eternity, calling, "'Prepare to meet thy God' for you are the next one."
I was reading in the Christian Herald recently about a man who said he was walking out in the woods and he heard a sweet little voice of a child behind a tree. Through sobs and tears she was saying her ABC's. He said to her, "Are you lost?" "No," she said, "I am praying ABC. I am in trouble and I didn't know what to say, so I was just saying the letters and asking God to put them together." That is about all we can say now, "O God, put them together."
This is the occasion which is to pay the last respects to the departed. We can't understand these things as they come to us. As death has come and taken one whom we love so much, my mind goes back to Mary who through her tears could not recognize her Master, until after her tears were dried. Sometimes our tears are so free and our grief so strong that for the present we do not see all that God has in His plan. But as we trust Him and follow Him, He makes His will very clear to us.
God one day suddenly met Ezekiel and said, "I am going to take from thee the desire of thine eyes." God took away his wife, and she was willing to go. God suddenly brought doom upon that city and Ezekiel seemed resigned to God's will. It may be that some one is in this room that God can awaken as to the uncertainty of life, and it may be that He couldn't get the message to you any other way.
I want to leave a message of sympathy from God's Bible School, Trustees, faculty and students. May God Himself comfort you as no earthly being can do.
This is one of the saddest occasions of my life, outside of the departure of some of my own loved ones. God is too wise to make a mistake, or err in judgment, though we cannot understand why dear sister Evangeline, as we all call her here, had to be called to depart from this life so early after fitting herself for her life work. I believe she was loved above any other, and while it is heart-rending, and we hate to give her up, yet we must be resigned to the will of God.
I remember, when we had the flu last winter, how Sister Surbrook came down every morning or so and rolled up her sleeves and washed and wiped dishes and did everything she could to comfort and assist us in our affliction. She did it in a quiet way, but it has not been forgotten.
In my meditation, a beautiful Scripture, Rev. 14:13, came to me, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Then the thought came, If we die in the Lord we must first live in the Lord. We know not when the message of death is going to come.
Though I am burdened with grief, there is a feeling in my heart of thanksgiving and praise to God for this young life who lived in the Lord in our midst. Just three years last September I first met dear Evangeline, and to know her was to love her. Evangeline was next to my own dear children. We have prayed together, we have been blessed of the Lord together. When I came home two weeks ago today, she walked home with me, but stayed only a few minutes. I didn't know that would be the last time I would walk with her here, but I am going to walk the streets of glory with her some day. Last Monday night I kissed her on the forehead and she said, "Thank you." These were the last words I heard her say. I am going to hear her testify over yonder, hear her sing the song of redemption.
Evangeline could express appreciation and gratitude better than anyone else I ever met. I saw examples in her life that I want to pattern after. I am richer in my heart this afternoon from knowing her. She sang songs that made me feel Heaven was very near -- old songs about the "home-coming."