Funeral Message for Illa Petitt

Delivered by Pastor Dave Fremstad
Saturday, February 6, 2005

My dear mother, Illa Petitt (pronounced “EYE-la”) passed away on February 2, 2005. There are several posts about Mom in Oo’s Writings. — Charlie

Let me direct your thoughts this morning to a well known passage of Scripture that speaks of the everlasting qualities of God our Father:
The 23rd Psalm.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Psalm 23, New International Version

This is a Psalm that many are familiar with.
It was Illa’s favorite scripture because of the hope that it brought during the hard times.
King David wrote this Psalm during a difficult time of his life.
Loneliness and fear and even death were before him.
And yet this Psalm doesn’t focus on any of these.
You see, David had learned a few things about the Lord throughout his lifetime…
And this Psalm focuses on those lasting characteristics of our God

David focuses on the presence, the provision, and the protection that we find when we are traveling at the Lord’s side.

It’s a Psalm of assurance that when times are tough, and life becomes hard, we can leave things in the Shepherd’s hands, that we can trust him completely with our lives.
It’s a Psalm of God’s ultimate promise—that He cares for us.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our shepherd. (John 10:11)
And why do we need Christ as our shepherd?
Because as our shepherd He cares for us in ways that others cannot.

David gives us a picture of God in this Psalm.
He shows us first of all that…

  1. God cares for us in providing for our needs.
    We find this in verses 2 and 3 of Psalm 23. (read)
    The picture here is of a shepherd who rises early in the morning, opens the gate to the pen, and leads his sheep from pasture to pasture.
    He leads them first to the fields where the grass is long and course, then as the sun rises and the day gets hotter, the shepherd would lead his sheep to greener, more tender grass, which was beside the “quiet waters.”
    Here the sheep could lie down and rest through the heat of the day.
    There is something calming about being beside the waters.
    The apostle Paul, from a prison cell in Rome wrote about God’s provision in Philippians 4:19,
    “My God will supply all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
    It is God who supplies our needs…
    In good times and bad.
    Without Him in this world, our lives would be in turmoil.
    We would continually be searching for things to satisfy our hunger and thirst and our desires.
    But as His sheep, Christ leads us into green pastures and beside quiet waters in the midst of our chaotic lives.
    The Lord, who is our shepherd, supplies our needs.

    David goes on to paint a picture of God that shows us…

  2. He cares for us by always being present with us. (Read verse 4)
    Nobody wants to be alone in life.
    We need the presence of family and friends to keep us going, because they provide comfort and warmth for our lives.
    Most of us know how difficult it is to be there for someone all the time, even for those we love the most.
    We may want to be there, but we have work obligations, deadlines to meet, and other people and commitments to meet.

    Jesus as our shepherd gives us the promise that He is always present.

    What David discovered about God is that He doesn’t take vacations, or lunch breaks; He is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    He is there to share our joys, and He is there to bring comfort to our lives in times of difficulty.
    There is a story about an elderly lady who was teaching the four and five year old Sunday school class at her church.

    During one of the lessons, they were studying the Old Testament and learning about the building of the temple.

    She explained to the students that when the temple was finished, the presence of the Lord filled the temple.

    Instantly the eyes of each child got wide and full of excitement.

    She soon discovered, however, that the source of their excitement was not that God had come to dwell in the temple, but rather, they were imagining that huge building filled with presents (as in gifts and toys) from God.

    We too may associate God’s presence with the gifts and blessings that we receive in life.

    But His presence is much more than that.
    The Bible promises, “He will never leave us or forsake us.”
    God is always present in our lives.

    David completes the picture of God for us by showing that…

  3. God CARES for us through his protection. (Read verse 5)
    All of us, at one time or another, experience difficulties that are hard to cope with.
    In our world it is hard to avoid trials.
    They are simply a part of our lives.
    Story about a little boy who was heard saying his prayers one night.
    In all innocence, this is what he said: “Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me.
    Oh, and please take care of yourself, God. Because if anything happens to you, we’re gonna be in a big mess.”
    This is the kind of picture King David gives us of God in the 23rd Psalm.
    God is not a cold, unfeeling, lifeless being, but a warm loving being who cares for us, his sheep…
    And through his care, he would never steer us wrong.
    The Lord Jesus as our shepherd protects us.
    Jesus said in John 10:14–15
    “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

    In the 23rd Psalm, David paints for us a picture of a merciful God, of Christ Himself as our shepherd—full of compassion, who knows his sheep, who cares for his sheep.

    The journey of life, as this 23rd Psalm reminds us, does not stop in the valley of death, but rather in the house of the Lord, in the presence of God where we find rest.

    Today we pause for a brief moment to remember Illa’s life. In doing so we look to Jesus Christ whom Illa knew and loved…
    And we are reminded that we all can rest in the Shepherd’s arms,
    Rest knowing that we too can find hope when we would put our trust in Jesus Christ as our shepherd.

    We can find rest in the promise that for all who know Christ as their shepherd the journey of life finds fulfillment in the presence and promises of God.

May God open your heart this day to His promises and to His gift of salvation and eternal life.