by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
We are gathered here today to remember the life of Viola Richardson.
Viola L. Richardson, 79, of Pickrell died on Friday afternoon, May 18, 2007, at St. Elizabeth’s Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. She was born on August 9, 1927, in Indianola, Oklahoma, and spent her childhood in Oklahoma and Texas, graduating from High School in Sunray, Texas in 1945. She attended business school in Amarillo, Texas. She was married to Robert Richardson on September 3, 1948, in Amarillo, Texas, and they lived in Cactus and Dumas, Texas, before moving to Beatrice in 1965. She worked as a secretary and daytime radio operator for the Beatrice Police Department from 1965 to 1977 and then was a part-time sales clerk at Miller’s Ready-to-Wear and at Bell’s Western Wear. She attended and was a very active member of the Church of Christ in Beatrice. She enjoyed her family and grandchildren, wildflowers, and reading.
Survivors include two daughters, Celene Shutts and husband Tom of Pickrell and JoAnna Johnson and husband Matthew of Bennet; two sons, Ronald Richardson of Harrison, Arkansas and Matthew Richardson of Lincoln; five grandchildren, Erin Richardson Shiflet, Sonia (Shutts) Fry, Esha (Shutts) Williams, Garrity and Blake Johnson; two great-grandchildren; one brother, Howard Hinton and wife Carol of Dumas, Texas and one sister, June Howard of Dear Park, Texas. She was preceded in death by her parents, Iven and Myrtle Justice Hinton, husband Robert who died on February 22, 1981, and one brother-in-law John Howard.
I only had opportunities to meet sister Richardson a few times, and I’m sorry to say that I did not get to know her. I spoke with a few who knew her and all recalled how she was the center of the church in Beatrice and how hard she worked in her lifetime.
Not too long ago, the Omaha paper had an editorial cartoon, done by a local artist, back when an infamous person had died. It said, “Meet Jane Q. Public. She worked hard in school. She played by the rules. She only got high on life. She married for love. She earned everything she owned. She was selfless and kind. She quietly made the world a better place. She died peacefully. People like Jane don’t make the news.” Viola didn’t make the world news, but she had an impact in this corner of the world.
Asaph, the chief musician and the worship leader of Israel under King David, wrote a Psalm that is number 73 in our Bibles.
"Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore his people return here, and waters of a full cup are drained by them. And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; They increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.
"If I had said, "I will speak thus," Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me- until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image.
"Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works" (Psalms 73).
Though life has its struggles, there is joy in the memory that Viola had lived. Though disappointments have come, we cannot be disappointed with our God and the reward awaiting His servants.
"A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth; Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth" (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4).
To the world, death is a finality that brings grief. To the Christian, death is the sorrow of departing from a friend whom we won’t see again for a while.
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
We know, for God said it will be, that nothing in the world will last. We are here on a journey; we are only traveling through. Like those who have preceded us, we are looking for our home.
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16).
I doubt that sister Viola has any desire to return to what was once her earthly dwelling because the glorious home for each child of God is elsewhere.
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away'" (Revelation 21:3-4).
The question is not whether she can return, but whether we can join the saints in heaven after our own journey is completed.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:4-5).
Our sister has gone home having fought the good fight. Having such an example, we should continue our own struggle through life so that we too might hear our gracious Lord say,
"Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21).
Have You Thought About Your Soul?
Have you ever stopped to wonder, what this life is all about?
Why you’re here and where you’re going, when your lease on time runs out?
Maybe you’ve been far too busy trying hard to reach your goal;
Would you let me ask you kindly, have you thought about your soul?
You may reach the highest portals, and your dreams may all come true;
Wealth and fame may be your portion, and success may shine on you,
All your friends may sing your praises, not a care on you may role;
What about the great tomorrow? Have you thought about your soul?
Don’t forget your days are numbered, though you may be ridin’ high,
But like all of us mortals, someday you’ll just up and die.
Your success and fame and glory won’t be worth the bell they toll;
Let me ask you just one question: have you thought about your soul?
If you’ve never thought it over, spend a little time today,
There is nothing more important that will ever come your way
Than the joy of sins forgiven, and to know you’ve been made whole.
In the name of Christ the Savior, have you thought about your soul?
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).