Friday, August 08, 2008
In Memory of Margaret Tarpley
Normally I like to keep this blog light and, hopefully, encouraging. However, today I want to pause to pay respects to a good friend, Margaret Tarpley, who went to be with Jesus on Friday, August 1, 2008.
I can't remember when I first met Margaret but it was a long time ago, relatively speaking. She was very active in the pro-life community and I attended some functions that she organized. Our paths crossed several times at political events, homeschooling functions and other civic activities as we shared a mutual desire to improve our world for our children.
Speaking of her children, Margaret LOVED her children. Nathan, Maria, Megan and Marybeth were her life! She poured herself into them, educating them, cheering them on, constantly believing in them. She was their biggest cheerleader and made sacrifices for them.
Margaret was also a huge fan of her husband, Ed. She fully supported him in all his endeavors, including his successful run for District Attorney in Grant Parish and his unsuccessful bid for Louisiana Attorney General. She looked at him with adoration and believed in him, even when life threw them curveballs. Ed was a blessed man. (I always kidded him that he married up! [G])
The service was incredibly moving. The special songs were perfectly chosen and performed, the congregational singing was worshipful and the ministers each were gracious and uplifting. The pastor who performed their wedding shared wonderful stories of their courtship and their commitment to Jesus. The minister who shared the obituary didn't just rotely read it, but shared insights into her life, her joys, her laughters, her sorrows. She was definitely honored by the things that were shared.
My friend, Bob Vincent, pastor of Grace Church in Alexandria, brought the main message. One thing I really appreciate about Bob is he never tiptoes around sensitive issues. Everyone in the room knew that Margaret had committed suicide after 2 years of debilitating and very painful sickness. Instead of just avoiding it altogether or mentioning it passing, Bob took us to Psalm 73 and walked us through the mind of a person who sees injustice around and begins to doubt the value in serving God. Even a person who has known God as good can find their minds overwhelmed with the unfairness of life - and the only remedy is to find your way to the sanctuary, the presence of God. Bob shared that the medications Margaret had been prescribed interfered with her ability to enter the sanctuary, to find the relief that can only be found in the presence of God.
Then Bob took us to John 10 and shared about the security of the believer. He shared how Jesus came to give us life, abundant, full, amazing life. Jesus promised that those who come to Him would NEVER be cast out - that they are safe in His hands and in the hands of the Father who is greater than Him. He shared that we don't have any promise that when we grow old we won't get Alzheimer's or dementia - we don't have the promise that the end of our life will be easy. But we DO have the promise that He will NEVER leave us, NEVER forsake us. That even if we make sinful choices, His love NEVER fails. It was a very moving message.
Margaret's life is not defined by the last two years of suffering. It was defined by her faith in Jesus, her faith that was lived out through the entirety of her life, and that is still lived out by her husband and children. Her deeds have gone on before her. She has rested from her labors. I'm reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 6:10 that says, "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. "
Margaret didn't earn her salvation. She was saved by grace through faith, the only way anybody is saved (Eph 2:8-9). And she lived out her salvation through walking in the good works God had prepared beforehand for her to do (Eph 2:10). I thank God for the honor of having known Margaret.
My prayers go out for her family, for they have a difficult journey ahead to pick up the pieces of their shattered life. But I know God will sustain them. And I know He will use people like me and you to comfort them. So reach out to them and let them know how Margaret's life touched you. Even if you don't know what to say, just say, "I love you and I'm praying for you." That will mean a lot. They don't need to be alone right now. They need community. So CARE for them. Now is our chance to help bring them into the sanctuary of God's love and comfort. We can do it.