That morning, as we were singing, ‘Only remembered by what we have done’, a song that x-rays the heart and helps in personal appraisal, not only for the laity but also for the clergy, sinner and saint, et cetera, the atmosphere of sobriety pervaded. That was during the funeral service of Madam Priscilla Nwanyiorie Asor on May 25, 2017 at Osumenyi, Nnewi South, in Anambra State.
Ven. Ernest Ezumezu, from the Anglican Communion, stepped out and stood by the side of the casket for the ministration of the Word. In a calm manner, he asked us whether we ever think about death. The extra-beautiful casket was something one would have desired to own if it were a piece of furniture. Alas, it was not! A mother, grandma, mother-in-law, sister, serious Church worker, et cetera, was inside it. Soon, her remains would be committed to mother earth and so it would be for everyone. ‘Only to be remembered by what we have done,’ good or evil, says the song. Death is sure for everyone, the difference is the day.
The Venerable informed us that Madam Priscilla Asor lived a challenging life, being her normal self, her lifestyle did not change, both in adversity and in the time fortune smiled for her children. Appealing to the large family of six sons and two daughters she left behind, he stressed the need for peace and unity. ‘You should preserve the peace your mother left behind,’ the venerable appealed to them. We perceived that peace and unity, a family of six men, building their beautiful houses on the same large expanse of land with only one gate!
He then read Micah 2:1-3, where the Prophet condemned people, who would wake-up at mid-night only to scheme evil against others. He said that the same thing is deeply with us today. After planning evil, he said, they execute it because they have the capacity, while others may not. Those, who cannot, then resort to bitterness and hatred towards their perceived enemies until they get men, who are out there to help them achieve their evil devises. These people will even tell them to regard the deed as done. ‘What do you do,’ he asked us, ‘during your quiet moments?’ When King Haman, could not sleep, apparently because of Esther’s prayer, as evil as he was, he caused for a review of their daily records. There it was discovered that Mordecai, a believer, who reported a palace coup, was not yet rewarded. And he was.
Death is certain for all mortals hence the Hebrew writer called it an appointment with God. Pleading ‘Holy Ghost fire’ each time death is mentioned, he said, is not a reprieve. ‘God said that He will deal with all the evil doers,’ he said, reminding us how some people will be caught in evil deed and they will plead for mercy, promising never to go back to their vomit. A few days after pardoning them, they go back to it because mere human resolve cannot obliterate sinful acts. That was why the Lord Jesus died vicariously for us.
The Minister’s hard but true Word of God was in tandem with the ministration of the previous night, during the wake-keep, by Rev. Wilson Ekenta, also from the Anglican Communion. He narrated how the people of God witnessed God’s miraculous deeds after leaving Egypt, such as the parting of the Red Sea, Manna from Heaven, water from the rock, et cetera, because of sin. None of them made it to Canaan, the Promised Land, except Joshua and Caleb. God owes nobody any apology for punishing man because of sin. ‘Sin is rampant today,’ he regretted, ‘and should God not punish us for sinning, then He owes an apology to the people of Sodom’. These people were noted for sodomy, hence their name, but today, we have gone beyond that, doing abominations they never imagined. Some mothers sleep with their sons, and some fathers with their daughters. People forget easily that God’s judgment in righteousness is coming.
‘Some people think that judgment will come long after death,’ he said. ‘As I was in the hospital praying for a sick man one day, I saw the angels of God carrying him to Heaven. I went to the doctor and asked him the next thing they would do for him. His response was negative. The next day, the man died. He was still alive when his judgment of going to Heaven was made. I heard also about a man who died and someone saw him going straight to hell,’ he told us. He reminded us of the two places the dead go, Heaven or hell, depending on the choices they made before death.
King David said that he nearly slipped when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. This is the problem. This is what many people see and then try to amass wealth anyhow. Such people package themselves is such a manner that you will see only their sunny side, but not their pains. The truth is that they have more troubles than you conjecture. Thank God that David was able to learn, at last, something about them that cheered him up: their sad end! If you do the same, you will not then envy them. How do they feel when the EFCC people chase them about and they jump from one wall to another, wounding themselves? Ask the wicked men, for it is their lot.
Perhaps, Balaam, not even a child of God, must have noticed all these things, when he said, ‘Let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like his’. Agreeing with him, Apostle John, in Revelation 14:13, wrote, ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord …that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them’. That could be the missing link of the comment made by a prominent man, when we were wheeling out the remains of my father-in-law, born-again, from the mortuary in 1990. ‘Looking at the casket, he said, ‘Your own is better’. The rich man in Luke 16, would have said the same, had he known before his death, that Lazarus, who was nobody, was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom, when he died, to rest for his labours. When the rich man died, it was in hell that he found himself. He was denied, not only a finger dip of water for his dry throat, but even the courtesy of mentioning his name in the Bible because it was not important. On earth, he was known but not after death. Bro. Lazarus’ name is mentioned because he was important in that place, where spirituality matters.
Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. Blessed are those who die in the Lord like Madam Priscilla Asor, that they may rest from their labours and their works, though human eyes may not see them, follow them.
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