In July, I attended two homegoing services that left lasting impressions on me and caused me to ask myself: Have I impacted someone’s life in a positive way? Has my life made a difference to someone? Have I used my time, talents and treasures to be a blessing to others? What work can I do for the kingdom of God that would have a lasting impact on others?
Sitting in the spirit-filled sanctuary of New Providence M.B. Church during the homegoing service of Ms. Eddie Mae Gray, I listened to remarks from her friends and church family.
Rev. Robert Jamison spiritually reflected, strategically expounded and emotionally eulogized her life by stating how she was always working in the church to make sure it ran properly and orderly. As President of the Pastor’s Aide Committee, she made sure, he, then her pastor, was taken care of. He spoke about her favorite words, “To God be the Glory.” He told of her dedication, love and positive teachings to her only son, Rico.
From all the heartfelt remarks about Ms. Gray, you would have thought she had been active and vibrant until her death. However, she had been in a nursing home for the past 12 years after suffering an aneurism. She made such an impact during her life, that even being bedridden and unable to talk for 12 years, words of praise for all of her works still rang throughout the church.
I later attended the homegoing service of Michael “Big Rat” Ratliff at Ripley Second Baptist Church. I was so inspired and impressed by the remarks from many who consistently stated that he was devoted to his family, church and friends. Man after man stood crying and told how Mike impacted their lives. The former coach from Northeast Mississippi Community College talked about his sportsmanship during the time he played football there. He was known for his favorite quotes, “One Day at a Time” and “Do the Right Thing”.
Words of his dedication and love for his wife, Connie, and his sons, Mike, Jr. and Chris, rang throughout the church. Words written by his sons stated, “Dad, we want to say thank you for being there for us and for showing us how to be men, and what true love is by the way you loved our mother. We’ll always carry the things you taught us through life. We will be great men of God because of Mom and you!”
Oprah Winfrey said, “With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.” Every day, while we yet live, we have the choice to make an impact on our family, friends, church members, etc. We have a choice to “Do the Right Thing” regarding our fellowman in the short time we are given on this earth.
Rev. Jesse Jackson said, “We live on the dash between our birth date and our death date.” What will be said about our dash? What will be said about our service to God? What will be said about our works? Will we impact the lives of family and friends like Ms. Gray and Mr. Ratliff did? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president for Finance and Administration at CREATE Foundation. Contact her at email@example.com.