My beloved sister, Jean Mason Potter, slipped away to heaven in her sleep a year ago on August 29. Strangely enough, she had just seen her doctor that morning who told her she was doing great and he didn’t need to see her for a year. Here it is, the week she was supposed to check back with him, hopefully to get another glowing report. We are instead seeing her gravestone installed where her body was laid to rest. She is healed and whole in heaven.
We are a sharing some mixed emotions as we look at the stone. It is yet another nail in the finality of it all. She has left us and will not be back. Yet, there’s a sweetness to it as well, knowing that finally this precious and hallowed spot is permanently marked.
As I look at the stone, it tells me a great story—it actually preaches a sermon to me. Let me share the points of the sermon with you:
- Despite all of our grand plans, we die the way we live. Jeannie lived simply, without fanfare. She died simply and quietly, without drama and flurry. Her stone is simple and beautiful, like her. She was a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of lady. She was all about serving and calling the attention to others, not herself. I am the forever benefactor of her giving and serving life, as are thousands of others here and around the world.
- The “M” in her name comes from a grandmother and great-grandmother. She is buried beside her parents, carrying her husband’s and daughters’ last name. Jean was all about family. She spent her last Friday holding a newborn grandniece at her niece’s wedding shower, spent Saturday caring for David and home things after work, used her Sundayto take Dad to church, and spent the afternoon meeting Dad’s personal needs. Monday morning she went to her doctor’s appointment and came home to take a little nap before going with her daughter to see her husband David, who was in the hospital. In the last 45 minutes before she slept her way home, she was chatting through text with her sister, her daughter, and her niece. Can you see where her priorities were?
- The dates say when she arrived on the planet and when she left—she was here for a short 65 years. What’s most important is what you can’t see—the way she spent the space between those dates. I can tell you how she spent it: She was loving, giving, and serving. Ask the people in her neighborhoods where she lived, where she was the first to help anyone in need. Ask the single parents, to whom she quietly provided the necessary school supplies when they just couldn’t swing it. Ask the people who benefitted from her sacrificial mission gifts and her travels, where she tearfully loved the them as if they were her own flesh and blood. Ask the children who rode the bus she drove for many years how she loved and protected and instructed the weak ones and the bullies. Ask the people in the churches and many ministries she served, where the general answer to most any question requiring service was, “Ask Jeannie.” Ask the people who visited the bookstore where she worked for many years, and learn how she counseled them, prayed for them, did way more than sell books. More than $30,000 has been given in her honor for wells in India since her death, because that was her heart. Three churches have been planted in Liberia surrounding wells in her name.
- She had no warning she was leaving. All the good she wanted to do, she had to do with no particular end date in sight.
- All the things she owned, wore, or prized, except people, are useless now. They have all been re-purposed, given away, saved for memory reasons. But none of them are useful to her anymore. The treasures she has in heaven all exist from the way she gave and loved.
Which brings me to my conclusion. There are three quotes we heard over and over again as we grew up in the home of James and Marie Mason. Jeannie took these lessons to heart, and as I look at her stone they come back to me again:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot, martyred missionary
“Live each day as if it is your last because one day it will be.”
“Only one life will soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.”