I wanted to share the words of Tina’s father on the passing of his mother. I wish I could have been there to hear the message. Tina got to be there to represent us for the family as I remained behind in Thailand. I’ll just let the remainder of the post speak for itself as I copy the outline of Clayton Robinson’s message at the memorial service.
Liz Robinson: A Life Well Lived
Dr. Clayton D. Robinson
I. I’m not sure offering to speak today was the wisest decision I’ve ever made. Then again, no one knows my mother better, other than my father. I know that my mother was proud of me and would have asked me to do it. I’ve done many memorial services, many for some present today. I’ve always loved weddings and never knew what to say at a memorial service. But today, my heart is bursting with so much to say that will honor such a women of God! Thus, today I want to tell you who Liz Robinson was, as told by a son, rather than an outside observer. I do ask that you grant me this one failing, to keep my composure I may read this message from time to time rather than simply tell it to you.
A. During the depression, my grandmother moved to LA as a single parent when my mother and uncle were very young. They lived off the street in an age where there was no social help. They survived by scrubbing floors 15 hours a day, picking fruit during harvest season, and being willing to do whatever it took just to get enough food to survive. My mother used to brag about having calluses so hard she could walk on glass or over burning coals, because she did not have any shoes. They would sleep on the beach in the summer, camp in the dessert in the Spring and Fall, and share a room with multiple other families in the winter. They had only the clothes on their back and were thankful if they had a place to sleep and a little bit of food to eat.
B. After four years, grandma heard of a women preacher. As the story goes, she just had to go and see that! At the very first service they attended at Angeles Temple, they heard the gospel for the very first time as Aimee Semple McPherson preached the word of God, and they accepted Christ. My mother was 8 years old. The small family knew how hopeless life could be, and after that day never once looked back at the world! Their lives were forever dedicated to Jesus Christ!
C. That love of Christ never waned! Even these past few weeks, when my mother’s health was failing, and her thinking was not as clear, the highlight of her week was being in church service. For weeks before she died, whenever someone would sit with her she would say over and over again, “I get to go to church on Sunday!” No question about it, it was the very highlight of her week.
D. That heart for the Lord determined my mother more than anything else. She would often note that she knew what it was to be poor and lost, and that she did not want anyone else to not know about the Lord. She led people to the Lord wherever she went.
II. Life Lessons Passed Down: My mother, especially in the past several years, has strived to pass on a legacy to us, her family. She told us many stories about what it truly means to grow up hard. Such as kicking something all night in your sleeping bag while sleeping in open in the desert, only to shake out a rattlesnake in the morning. Of seeing the power of God work through Aimee Semple McPherson. Speaking of how you could feel the presence of God enter the room with Aimee so that you could know whether or not she was present by the power of God in the room. And then challenging us to strive for that kind of spiritual presence. While I could simply share her stories, even more powerful to me was her life. Thus, without contriving to a preordained outline, I’ve jotted down a few “life-lessons” that my mother taught me, and in honor of her legacy I want to pass them on to you.
Never pass an opportunity to share Christ: When I was a young minister, my mother told me a story. My mother was 22, and my father 23 when they took their first pastorate. Shortly thereafter a man came to the parsonage and asked to speak to the pastor, because he wanted to know more about Christ. My mother informed him that the pastor was out, but if the man would return after lunch, he would gladly speak to him. After lunch, when the man did not return, my father went to visit him, only to find that the many had decided to take a nap while awaiting his appointment and fell asleep smoking in bed. A fire erupted and the man did not survive. My mother carried a deep burden for that man all her life and determined that as long as she lived she would not pass up another opportunity to share Christ. She pressed than on the rest of us as well. After that she was a quiet powerhouse evangelist. When traveling on a plane to Hawaii she disappeared, only to be later found leading a large Jewish family in a prayer to receive their Jewish messiah, Jesus. In a grocery store, she led the checkout lady while a line 15 people deep waiting and watching as my mother held the sobbing grocery lady’s hands and prayed. No one, anywhere or anytime was immune from her radiant testimony and faith!
A. Submit to those in authority over you: It would be impossible to find someone who was more submitted to the Lord, her husband, or her pastor. She never would do something wrong, but outside of that, one could ask her to do something and rather than asking “why?” she would ask, “when?” She would do the things asked of her, even when she knew better; she would do things they way asked even when she could do them in a much superior manner. The wise around her would simply task her and allow her to get the job done.
B. Don’t speak ill of others: In my entire life, I’ve heard lots of people criticize others, maybe even entered in myself once and awhile, but I’ve never heard my mother criticize others. She always spoke good, not evil, always believed the best, rather than feared the worse.
C. Put others first, Be the Servant of All: I don’t remember ever saying, “I just need sometime for myself.” On Mother’s Day she would Joy and I invite a large contingency of youth who came from broken homes over to our house. When we offered to help with the dishes, she would respond, “Mother’s Day is the day mothers get to serve others in need. Don’t cheat me out of my special day! Even when my mother was dying, she would not let us talk of it at all, for to her last dying breath she believed in the healing and sustaining power of God. In her last two days, my mother slipped into a coma, but would wake up every now and then struggling and would arouse suddenly, forcefully saying, “I don’t want to go yet!” Even though God knew she had served her purpose here on earth, she did not want to leave those she loved. If she could have, she would have gotten up from her bed to serve us all. I don’t think she relished even for one moment that for once all of us were serving her.
D. Be an encourager: My mother would come up on a regular basis and tell me I was the best preacher she ever heard, and that I had just preached the best sermon ever preached. She was so consistent I even began to believe it myself! Others would tell me “you’re not that good.” But my mother would say, “You’re the best!” I would preach twice as hard when she was present!
E. Hospitality: Accept into your home everyone as if they were your own family. My mother became the mother or grandmother to anyone who needed it. That is why so many even present today think of my mother as being your own! We completely lost our holidays, for the table every year would be full of people my mother would invite to join us.
F. Trust God in all circumstances: Growing up poor, my mother learned to trust God. I don’t every remember hearing her fret about things, she would just pray. Even when the food ran out, she would quietly trust God, and agreeing with my father’s faith somehow we never went without.
1. Maybe she learned that when she was 10. Work had run out, they had no place to stay, and it was winter, too cold to sleep on the street. After attending a service at AT, the family sat on a bench in Echo Park with my grandmother sobbing. A retired African American women came up and asked her what was wrong. “We have nowhere to go, and I’m sure they are going to come and take my children away from me,” my grandmother responded in tears. The women invited them to come to her house and sleep on the couch, for she had already given all the other rooms in her house away to other homeless families.
2. Don’t be fooled into thinking that faith meant riches in our early years. I fondly remember my mother ironing the used tinsel and wrapping paper to put on our donated Christmas tree. Yet I don’t ever remember my mother complaining. She thought we were rich. We had food (usually), a secure home, and were safe. She never asked for more! Only when my parents had proven happy and generous, in spite of severe need, did God begin to prosper us. And our prosperity NEVER came from the church, but directly from the Lord!
3. Trust comes from understanding God’s word. In fact, Rom 8 speaks of trusting that God will work on our behalf through all the circumstances of our lives. While I could expound on this well, better yet, let’s let her share it herself. Here is a short segment from her “Breath of Life” radio broadcast. [Sound Clip]
G. Be a Person of Prayer: How did my mother learn to trust God in all circumstances? She learned the principle of the power of prayer! Maybe she learned that as a child in a story so strange, so wondrous, so improbable, no impossible, that one can only be amazed at the greatness and goodness of God to guide our lives.
1. My father was a street punk. One day, while just a young teenager, he came upon a small Pentecostal church during the midweek service. Devilishly he lit a deadly gopher bomb and tossed it through the window during worship. As you can imagine, it caused quite a stir. By divine appointment my grandmother was there in the service with her children. She said to those gathered, don’t worry about it, it’s just a street punk. Let’s pray that he finds the Lord and gets saved. So the pastor led the prayer. When he finished, the Holy Spirit came upon grandma and she boldly proclaimed, “that’s not good enough, let’s pray that he become a preacher!” The pastor then replied, “Sister Elizabeth, since you have the burden, why don’t you lead out in the praying.” I’m sure it was a long and meaningful prayer. But, years later my father met my mother at a party. He asked to date her and she refused because he was not a believer. He did, however, attend AT so he could see her. A year later he accepted Christ and was called into the ministry. Only years later did God reveal that he had divinely ordered their lives…
2. Whatever your circumstance, whatever you face, don’t every underestimate God’s power to bring about good out of difficulty. If there is one thing my parents have taught me, God truly is the God of the Impossible!
H. Diligence and Excellence: My mother modeled giving your all, all the time. Hockey players speak of giving a full 60 minutes (although they rarely do). My mother spoke of giving 365 days a year without a break, each and every year, for a lifetime, and she did!
I. Always Improve: My mother learned biblical Greek and Hebrew after the age of 70! She already knew Hungarian, French and Spanish. Although she had 50 years in the ministry, was a renown speaker, and had taught on the Radio for years, she never failed to take any class offered at New Life Bible Institute! She read hundreds of books each and every year, none of them novels;, noting that there was so much more to learn and so little time to learn it! She stayed up all night reading and working even through this last year. In all this she was dependent upon the word of God more than anything else. My mother read her Bible every day, through the Bible dozens of times each year. Yes, that’s right, dozens each and every year! She was ever hungry for God’s word.
J. Be faithful to the Lord always: Be Faithful to the Lord: My mother, every day of her life, lived Christ. I never heard her say a dirty word, not once! I never heard her tell a course joke, not one! I never heard my mother speak ill of another person. She was the perfect example of love and purity, of holiness and innocence, of faithfulness and endurance. In her, love never failed!
1. In these past months during her grave illness, my mother did not always think clearly. She would be so sick and we would say, “Mom, you need to stay home and rest.” But she insisted, “I’m going to church service.” She even sat in service a week ago Sunday. Somehow she sense her body was about to completely fail, and she would not miss her last chance to worship God. Monday her body failed and the Lord took her on Wednesday. Just the week earlier I went over to the house and sat with her. She just kept saying, “I get to go to church this Sunday!” After a dozen times, I realized it was the single highlight of her week! She modeled the scripture that states, “When you have done everything, stand firm!”
K. I think the only way my mother would have let go in the end is if the Lord assured her what Paul says in 1 Thess 3, “For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord…And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
III. In conclusion: I wanted to share these simple truths with you so that her life legacy can impact you yet again one more time. From now on, however, her legacy must be written upon our lives. If you will, we must let her legacy live on through us, as we pass these godly principles on to others! But, if my mother present today she would want me to challenge you afresh, “Are you living for Christ today?” “Is it truly well with your soul?” Regardless of whether you are a long-term believer, or today you need to make a fresh or renewed commitment to Christ, would you stand and join me in a prayer of commitment to Christ.