The two sermons which follow were preached by Robert E. Coleman at the funerals of his parents. His father, James Henry Coleman, was buried January 7, 1975, and his mother, Helen Hood Coleman on August 21, 1985. Both messages offer fitting tribute to loved ones, and provide a model for bringing comfort and inspiration in the funeral setting.
Dad Looked for a City
I remember one night several years ago, as we were sitting by the fire at home, Dad turned to me, and asked: "Emerson, where does one go when God takes him out?"
Seeing my bewildered expression, Dad said: "Does it matter? You are with God, and you go wherever He wants to go."
Dad was thinking of that experience of Abraham when "he was called to go out unto a place which he should after receive for an inheritance." And in obedience, we are told, "he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Hebrews 11:8
"By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country"--moving from place to place--never with his children, "the heirs with him of the same promise" (Hebrews 11:9
). There was no discontent with the arrangement. In fact, he found happiness in it, and his family prospered. But through it all, he fully realized that this world was not his permanent home. "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10
That is the way it should be with any person who has heard the call of God, and gone out with Him. You can not really feel at home in this world anymore.
Dad came to this kind of perspective. Along life's way he heard that still small voice of the Lord. As he understood the call, he went out, not knowing clearly what to expect--sometimes missing a milepost, sometimes falling down--but always looking for "that city which hath foundations, those builder and maker is God."
I don't know if you ever noticed it or not, but it seemed to me, especially in these last years, that he had a far-away look on his face, as if he was gazing on something beyond you. The glint in his eye almost intimated that he knew a joke on this world, which made its attractions seem ridiculous. It was not that he was unmindful of the human arena, for in his eighty-three years--as soldier, lawyer, farmer, businessman--he saw more of this world than most men. But he understood all too keenly that nothing the world had to offer could satisfy the soul. To him it was indeed "a strange country."
Turning from its hollow allurements, he sought neither the world's comfort nor its fame. He found delight in obscurity, living a simple life at home. Anyone who ever visited him there would see how much he loved the commonplace, the quiet beauty of nature, the peace of solitude. Though not generally seen by the outsider, there was a deep, unassuming kindness about his nature, especially empathizing with the lowly and weak. One of the last things he did the night before he died was to go out on the back porch and make a little bed for a stray cat that had no place to sleep.