Thoughts on the death of my friend, Julia Schroeder (1961-2002)
Ten years later
By Terry Gardner
Julia was the daughter-in-law of Angie Schroeder who was for several years a member at Southeastern. Julia died of breast cancer almost ten years ago. At today’s Colts-Packer football game the focus was on breast cancer awareness and the color of choice was pink. This stirred thoughts within my spirit of my friend and of ten years ago when I tried to speak words of truth and comfort at her funeral.
Solomon tells us “It is better to go to a house of mourning, than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” Eccl. 7:2. The wise man would rather be with us at a funeral than at the most wonderful party. Why? Because it makes us THINK. It forces us to reflect upon our own mortality and death. When reflecting thus, I examine my own life and I know that as Julia is I soon will be. What were the qualities in Julia’s life that were refined by the trials of life and glistened like gold in the noonday sun? Four qualities come to mind.
First, Julia was a very direct person. You did not need to guess at what she was thinking nor study to uncover some hidden meaning. She said what she meant and she meant what she said. American culture does not often appreciate directness. We want it sugar coated and we are often so fearful of hurting someone’s feelings that we do not tell them the truth … even when their very souls are at risk. John the Baptist saw the religious leaders of his day come to his baptism and said this to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7). This did not mean the Julia was unloving, anymore than John the Baptist or Jesus were unloving. But love requires that I am direct in calling people to repentance and the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that there is NO SIN that God will not forgive immediately if we will repent and turn from it.
Second, Julia was a good student of the Scriptures, the Bible, God’s Word. Her faith in God was complete and it rested, not upon the faith of some one else, but it was her own faith developed from a careful study of the Scriptures and the application of Scriptural principles to her life. The Apostle Paul tells us that the people of Berea were nobler than those of Thessalonica because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was true. Julia understood that, “the Scriptures … bear witness” of Jesus himself. (June 5:39). Paul tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17). Most people claiming to be religious, claiming to be Christians, have no real knowledge of what God’s Word teaches. The idea has gained currency that it matters not what you believe, just so you are sincere in your belief. Such a view would place a premium upon ignorance and it is not taught anywhere in the Bible. If I was sincere in my belief that what Bernie Madoff was selling was a good buy and I demonstrated my sincerity with large deposits, would that sincerity save me from financial ruin? If I married a woman who solemnly promised to love me in sickness and health and she was not true to me, would the sincerity of my belief save me from ruin? Yet in matters of religion, we want to think that sincerity will save us from our lack of interest in studying the Scriptures for ourselves … too often we listen to preachers, pastors, priests who have their own agendas when God has plainly told us what we need to do. Jesus, in referring to the religious leaders of his day, called them blind guides … and added, “they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:14). The sincerity of those following the blind matter not one bit!
Third, Julia was a sacrificial person. She had enormous talent and ability. She could have been successful in many professions. However, she chose to work in the field of special education. This allowed her to help those in distress and maximized time with her own family. Julia was supportive of her husband through many jobs and career changes. This included a move to Lexington so that her husband could further his education and career. Many women of such strong disposition and ability would not have been willing to sacrifice in such a way for their family. At Julia’s funeral her husband told me, that Julia was a “pillar of support … she was my rock.” Julia gladly sacrificed for her husband and for her beloved son, Zane.
Fourth, Julia was prepared to Meet God. Finally, Julia was prepared to meet God. In Amos 4:12-13, the prophet wrote, “Therefore, thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I shall do this to you. Prepare to meet your God, O Israel. For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth. The LORD God of hosts is His Name.” The challenge to prepare to meet God is battle imagery. By Israel’s conduct God had been challenged—and God returns the challenge to Israel to come out into the field of battle and meet him on the things that constituted Israel’s rebellion and defiance. It means before deciding to engage in battle, take a look at the opponent, estimate the opposition—his name the “LORD God of hosts.” The designation the God of hosts means the God of battle. The word hosts in the Old Testament meant armies; The God of Hosts is the God of Armies. So it is a military imagery; it is the prophet’s appeal to Israel not to array themselves against God, not to get on the opposite side from God, not to fight against God. The lesson is the same to us; it means the same thing and has the same application today—that is, never get on the opposite side from God. After all, God’s power is without limit and “The LORD God of hosts is His name.” He is the God of battle; it is terrible mistake to choose God for an opponent or in any situation to be on the opposite side from God--- all-powerful, all knowing and present in all places at the same time. The God in whom we live and breathe and have our very being.
Ten years ago I did not say good-bye to my dear sister and friend, but until we meet again. I said “till we meet again” much sooner than I wished as she was just 41 years old, but as Foy E. Wallace, Jr., reminds us, “It is not the length of the life that necessarily counts. It is not the length of the story that makes it worth reading. The greatest stories ever written are the parables of Christ; and the greatest life that was ever lived was the life of the Son of God—just thirty-three years. It is how we live, not how long we live, that counts in the great Day of Reckoning, for ‘it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the Judgment.’”
Julia Lynn [nee Martin] Schroeder was born 9 July 1961 and died on 29 November 2002.