39 Honor Oak Road 

Forest Hill 


SE23 3SH 

Last month's thought

Moira ter Laag

You will see on our 'Dates for your diary' page that very soon we will be having a funeral service. It will be a time of immense sadness. We will be thanking God as we remember the life of Moira ter Laag who has been a core member of our church here for thirty years.

Throughout that time she has been exceptional in the consistent way she has helped in the life of the church. Whenever there was a call for volunteers, she was ready. As a result she served us in a host of ways ranging from Church Treasurer to handing us tea and coffee.

Now we are all struggling to come to terms with the fact that suddenly and unexpectedly we know that we will never see her cheerful, smiling face greeting us at church again. We are grieving, seriously grieving. Through the day and through the night we are thinking about our loss. However, when we come together for that funeral, intensely sad as we will be, we will not be at all miserable! Why is that?

We know that Moira has had a trust in Jesus as her Saviour since her student days, and has followed him as Lord. Consistently over the years she has been providing evidence of her obedience in countless decisions; some major and life-changing, but the majority seemingly trivial. We have no doubt at all that Moira had (in the words of Paul in Romans 5:1-2) been justified by faith and so had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result we are confident that she has received a "well done, good and faithful servant" from the Lord she loved to serve.

But it is important to grasp that our assurance that Moira is safely with her Lord is not based on her many loving actions, but on her faith. Were it to depend on the amount of her loving actions or the extent of her good works, we could never be sure she had qualified! Our assurance is based on the fact that the Bible clearly teaches that we are accepted by God only when we see ourselves as failing to please him and trust God's promise to forgive us when we ask.

So, sad as we are, we are full of joy that our sister is with her Lord, free from weakness and pain, spared so much and now receiving her reward. We would love it if she was still with us, but we can't begrudge her the reward that she is now enjoying. Thus, her funeral service will be a sad occasion, but throughout there will be a declaration of joy and confidence that she is forever with her Lord.

Some might well be surprised that during the service we will not at any point pray for Moira. We will worship and praise God, we will give thanks for our memories, we will pray for comfort for her family and friends, and we will pray for ourselves - but we won't pray for Moira. That will not be the result of any failure of concern on our part, but because we know that she is safely with her Lord. No prayer of ours can possibly improve her situation.

This is the heart of the Christian message: it is only by trusting in what Jesus has done for us, and taking him to be both our Saviour and Lord, that we can enjoy the privilege of being forgiven and becoming children of God. As a result, all of us can come to a position of total certainty that when our earthly life comes to an end we will be received into a heavenly home.

 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." (John 11:25 NIV)