Earlier posts (here and here) focused on Lydia Byrd, a precious 7-year-old young lady who, two years ago, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She went to Heaven about 6:25 am on Wednesday, October 26. Her funeral service was today, October 28. While hundreds attended her funeral, many others wanted to attend but couldn’t. For their benefit in particular, and anyone else who would like to read what was said at the funeral, I’ve posted my comments below.
Funeral Service for Lydia Byrd
October 28, 2011
The following scriptures are some that have been especially meaningful to Willie and Stacey over the past two years…
Isaiah 26:3–4 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Matthew 11:28–30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Lamentations 3:22–24 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Over 8 years ago, life forever changed for Willie and Stacey Byrd in particular and their family members in general. They got the news that Stacey was pregnant! Growing inside of her was a precious gift from God, a precious little baby girl whose name would be Lydia.
Like all parents they’re hearts were overwhelmed with the joys and yes, the responsibilities, that come with raising a child. Stacey sprung into action planning out how Lydia’s room would be decorated. What would be the theme colors? What pictures would hang on the walls? What kind of baby toys would adorn her room?
Then the day came for Lydia to be welcomed into the world. Stacey wrote about it recently…
As we were traveling down the road at 4 am, my sweet man at the wheel, I was reminded of another middle-of-the-night trip to the hospital. January 30th, 2004 ~ Willie driving and me having labor pains, knowing that soon our precious God-gift, wrapped in the flesh of a baby girl, would be ushered into this world…into our arms.
Holding Lydia in their arms would make them more aware than ever before of just how much their parents loved them. And for the next five years the Byrd house would be a place of joy and peace and love and worship and praise to the Lord for His precious gifts. Yes, gifts because God would a few months later bless Stacey’s womb with another treasure in the form of Luke and then a few years later ole Sam. Five Byrds enjoying life in their “nest.”
Then the Byrds’ Nest would be disturbed in a way that was unforeseen and certainly unplanned by Willie and Stacey. Unknown to them, a tumor was slowing growing that, for the first time, back in September 2009, began to manifest itself in Lydia’s eyes. A battery of tests would confirm what no parent ever wants to hear…your child may very well not survive this.
What? Not survive? What’s going on? While unforeseen and unplanned by Willie and Stacey, this diagnosis was foreseen and yes, even planned by God. Planned by God? For those of you who may bristle at such a statement, I know for a fact that Willie and Stacey do not bristle at it. They believe in the sovereign God of the Scriptures. They believe that He is sovereign over all; otherwise, He is not sovereign at all. They agree with this assessment of God found in Daniel 4.35 — [God] does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth…. And this statement written in Psalm 115:3 — Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Listen to the written testimony of Willie and Stacey:
He knew even before He made her His plan for her. His perfect plan.
Not 87 years on this earth.
7½ she’d say more precisely. I feel that her 7½ years have not been wasted, but have been used for His glory. I pray her story will continue to etch His story deep into some hearts.
He doesn’t want us clinging to His gifts, He wants us clinging tightly to Him.
On another occasion, Stacey writes…
Trusting in Him and accepting His perfect will for Lydia frees me from clinging to her, allowing my hand to be held tightly in His as I walk this path.
And on yet another…
I so wish I could pan out from our circumstances at this time to see His story. His perspective. Knowing He has written every day before time even began and that NOTHING takes Him by surprise brings indescribable peace to my soul. Knowing He has purpose in all of this hard stuff gives me strength. When I take my eyes off of Jesus I get anxious and fearful. When I mediate on His promises I am quieted by His love.
And so here we are. God’s plan for Lydia’s earthly life was a 7-year plan…a 7½-year plan. But oh, what a wonderful creation of God was “little Lydia.” Let’s reflect on her for a few moments.
LYDIA…a name purposely chosen by Willie and Stacey, a name that means noble and kind, a person who is friendly, kind and generous, wanting to do what’s right.
LYDIA…I’d like to take her name and use it as an acrostic to reflect further on Lydia’s life.
Lovely – Even a blind person could look at Lydia Byrd and notice her loveliness, her beauty, her innocence. I can’t tell you how often, when thinking about or talking about Lydia, I’ve thought of her with having two first names…Lovely Lydia. Lovely inside and out.
Yearning – Over the past several weeks and even months, if you would have asked Lydia, “If you could go anywhere, where would you most want to go?” her answer would have been, “Heaven.” Now, Disneyworld would have been her second choice, but Heaven was option #1. She developed a yearning for Heaven.
Devoted – Lydia was devoted to the Lord Jesus by her parents. They wanted, more than anything else, the Lord to use Lydia for His glory and honor. No, they had no idea her life would come to a close so soon, but had they known this day would come 7+ years ago, they still would have devoted her to Him.
Interested – Lydia was interested in others. Even at an early age she often was a little evangelist, telling people that they needed Jesus in their life, that they needed to know Him as their Savior. Even as a sick child she was so interested in her brothers and others, often finding incredible delight in going shopping to buy stuff for them. She loved to give things away to others. Sometimes she give expensive stuff away to kids that she didn’t even know that well!
She was quite interested in helping mom and dad teach their sons about the ways of the Lord! She would entice with candy and thereby bribe them to come to her room to teach them the Bible.
Artsy – Lydia had her mom’s artistic flare. She loved bright colors. Painting. Drawing. Making crafts. Scrapbooks. Picture albums. As an artsy person, she loved to collect “treasures”. Rocks, mulch, assorted pieces of mangled plastic, old hair bows, probably thinking, I can use this one day for a neat art project.
LYDIA…what a lovely girl who yearned for Heaven, having been devoted to the Lord by her parents, who was so interested in others and had such an artsy personality.
Lydia is in Heaven right now. She’s been there since about 6:25 am this past Wednesday. She’s with the Lord Jesus. And one day her body will be resurrected. Her soul will be reunited with a glorified body and she will rise!
Message of comfort…
An ABC News poll a few years ago revealed that 9 out of 10 people in the US say they believe in Heaven. But those who do hold to a belief in Heaven would be quite varied in what they believe Heaven is like and even more so on what is required to get there. For the next few minutes, we’re going to let the Bible be our authoritative source to tell us a few things about Heaven.
The text of Scripture I’m going to focus on will be Revelation 21.1-4 where we are told about a “new Heaven and a new earth.”
1 – The Need for a New Heaven and Earth
This current earth and universe has been corrupted by sin. God’s corresponding curse on sin has made this earth a place where work in tiring, where life is often difficult, where things die, where there is devastation at times. But even though marred by sin, this world is a marvelous place, filled with exquisite beauty. A sunrise at the beach can be captivating. As can a snow-capped mountain range and the underwater marvels on the floor of the ocean.
2 – The Beauty of the New Heaven and Earth (vv.1-2)
When Lydia died this past Wednesday, she went to the “heavenly Jerusalem,” the place where Jesus told His disciples He was preparing for them (John 14.1-3). One day, when God creates the new heaven and the new earth, this “heavenly Jerusalem” will descend and rest on the new earth. It will serve as the dwelling place for all the redeemed for all eternity.
Notice the analogy used to describe the New Jerusalem: as a bride adorned for her husband. There are differences of opinion as to whether the bridal analogy refers to the city, the New Jerusalem, or the people in the city, the bride of Christ. I think it’s safe to say it refers to both. In Isaiah 61.10 God clothes Israel “with garments of salvation…as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” And in Isaiah 62.1-5 we are told that Yahweh will rejoice “as a bridegroom over his bride.”
A young lady’s wedding day is typically the day above all others that she adorns herself with a beautiful dress, appropriate make-up, and her hair perfectly prepared. When her husband sees her he is blown away with her beauty and loveliness.
Though the Lydia we all loved is in heaven, her body is in this casket, and she’s dressed in white…just like a bride typically dresses in white on her wedding day. And while Willie will not have the privilege to walk her down a wedding aisle, Jesus, Lydia’s bridegroom, already has! He came and took her to himself on Wednesday. And one day, she, along will all of the redeemed, will descend in the New Jerusalem to the New Earth and there we will live forever.
3 – The Occupants of the New Heaven and Earth (v.3, “them…His people”)
The New Heaven and Earth will be occupied only by those who know Christ Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Could it be that one of God’s sovereign purposes in taking Lydia to Heaven at such a young age was to use her life and death to draw you unto Himself and help you recognize your need of salvation? Could it be that Willie and Stacey’s incredible stewardship of God’s grace is being used and will be used to help people realize I need Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord?
Oh, folks, if we could peer into Heaven even now and see lovely Lydia, she would, with even greater interest in your well being, plead with you to trust Jesus like she did and like her parents do!
Lydia will be reunited with her mom and dad, with all of her loved ones who know the Savior!
I beg you on the Byrds’ behalf, repent of your sin, humble yourself and cry out in desperation for forgiveness of your sin. Trust in Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior.
4 – The Benefits of the New Heaven and Earth (v.4)
Think about all the reasons we cry…
- When we’re hungry and/or thirsty
- When we want attention
- When we’re heartbroken
- When we’re mistreated
- When we’re in pain
- When we’re suffering
- When we’re in sorrow
- When we’re sick
- When we’re disappointed
- When we’ve lost the big game
- When we’ve lost our possessions due to a flood, tornado, or hurricane
- When we’re desperate for help
- When we’re lost
- When we’re sympathizing or empathizing with others who are hurting
- When we sin…because we’ve broken God’s heart
- When we’re not going to see someone for a long time…like soldiers leaving for the battlefield or our children going off to college
- When our loved ones and friends DIE…
All these reasons for crying are because we live in a sin-sick, sin-cursed world. One day that is all going to change! One day the Sovereign God of Heaven and earth will forever remove the debilitating effects of sin and suffering! Death will be no more! One day there will be everlasting, uninterrupted joy and bliss! One day heaven and earth finally will be united! One day Willie and Stacey will be reunited with Lydia! One day her family and friends who know Jesus will be reunited with Lydia. And so shall we ever be with the Lord!
Personal words of commendation…
Willie and Stacey, your parental love and care of Lydia was outstanding, exemplary is every way. Ms. Brenda, Mr. and Mrs. Byrd, thank you for your “grand-parenting comfort”. Greg and Shelly, you guys, and especially you Shelly, as Stacey’s only sibling, you were fantastic. You were there when they needed you.
On behalf of Willie and Stacey, “Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped in so many ways on so many occasions. Their debt of gratitude will ever be repaid, nor should it be attempted, but, again, thank you from the bottom of their collective hearts.”
Willie and Stacey, on behalf of the body of Christ, I would like to publicly commend you for being good stewards of God’s grace. It has been an incredibly hard two years, but you have faithfully tapped into God’s grace, you have consistently gone to the Word of God and found solace there, you have so often allowed the Holy Spirit to shape and mold you further into the image of your Savior. And I just want to thank you for setting a good example of how Christians go through the valley of the shadow of death and still cling to their Lord and seek to glorify Him in everything.