Occasionally, there are those people who get into your heart. Joyce was one of those people. Joyce Lynn George passed on into the loving arms of our Lord on August 30, 2019, in Fayetteville, after succumbing to injuries sustained from a car wreck. She was 59. Her family asked that I speak at her funeral, which was held at First United Methodist Church in Coffeyville, Kansas. Joyce’s family welcomed me into their home and into this celebration of Joyce's life and faith. I now see where Joyce got her unconditional love, kindness, faith, and the importance of family. I'm so thankful she had a family that cherished her.
It’s been amazing to hear of the Joyce I didn't know - her younger years as a kind and loyal friend, her life as a strong single mom raising three boys, and to understand the struggles that led her to Genesis. This is the way I knew Joyce in her last years.
Psalm 23:1 says: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
Joyce talked often about her love for Jesus. She knew He carried her sorrows, loved and died for her - and was with her every moment.
The scriptures say there's Faith, Hope, and Love. (1 Cor. 13) And the greatest of these is love. Joyce was a spirit-filled believer with all three.
Psalm 23:2: He makes me lie down in green pastures He leads me beside quiet waters
Joyce, and all of us, who are on a journey with God as our shepherd know He's got a plan and purpose for our lives. God gave her soul peace even in the storms she faced. At one point, with Joyce trembling and holding my hand - she said she wanted the struggle to be over, and to be in heaven with her mom. Today we celebrate them being together again.
The word God gave me about Joyce was ‘Unique’ – how special and amazing He knit Joyce together. We are each unique and precious to God, just like Joyce.
She was a free spirit and we connected instantly when we first met. We shared a lot in common, marriage and a wild son (I only had one and she raised three), a devastating divorce, feeling like a loner in the world, and a deeply loving family but choosing to be distant for fear of being the black sheep. We also shared faith in a Savior whose mission was to the hurting, broken, and lonely.
Jesus said that when we encounter people who are struggling and help them, we are helping Him. In Joyce, I met Jesus himself. I met a deeply spiritual woman, who every time we talked asked for prayers for her family to be healthy and safe.
Joyce was excited to get involved in church and to be welcomed as a child of God. She planned to volunteer to hold babies in our childcare ministry and to be a mentor to single mothers. Joyce was following Christ in becoming the person He created her to be.
In our last conversation, she talked about joining our Celebrate Recovery program. That's a place for everyone. A place for dealing with our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Joyce wanted to heal and grow in God’s strength. God was doing incredible things in her life.
It's bad enough to lose your home once, but Joyce went through that trauma twice. The second time, Joyce came to me and wanted to join our church family after her move. She asked us to pick her up every Sunday. We would pick her up and have breakfast together. She loved our worship because it is unique just like her. At Genesis, we have everyone from multi-millionaires who have everything, to people who have nothing, bikers, doctors, hippies, and accountants. We are all one family.
My prayer is that your family will be closer together than ever before.
After her accident, we can't ignore the difficult question: Why do bad things happen to good people? I don't have an easy answer, but I know that God is right there with us as we move through challenging times of life. Like Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” God is with us right now to comfort us and bring us to green pastures and still waters.
Seven years ago I broke my neck in an accident. Before then, I assumed there was always going to be another day. I took the special gift that is life for granted. Now, every day is a miracle, a chance to love God and love others. I pray that we will look at life differently as we reflect on Joyce’s accident because she loved God and loved each of you, just like Jesus said to.
For a moment after my accident, I was transported into the arms of our Heavenly Father. Surrounded by pure light - there was no fear, no pain, and no recollection of my accident. It felt like I was being held by God himself. I pray this gives you some peace knowing this.
And that's what the scripture says: remember the story of The Prodigal Son when the son returns home - The Father, who represents God, runs to the Son (who is each of us) and hugs him. That's what Joyce experienced a few weeks ago. This is what each of us will experience someday. I hope that brings you comfort. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul says that he'd rather stay here on Earth because there's work to be done but it's better by far to be at home with the Lord.
At the end of Psalm 23, the writer says that he was sure that he is going to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That's where our sister Joyce is. In the house of the Lord, where there's no more suffering and no more tears, and I look forward to joining her there someday.
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