Thursday, October 4, 2012

The celebration of Samuels life

As you know, we laid Samuels earthly body to rest on Wednesday, 3 weeks ago. So many decisions had to be made, but God was gracious and gave us clarity and wise council through it all. We had decided not to have his casket open at the service, but after talking with our wise pastor, we decided to open it, but turn it around so everyone would have a choice to see him one last time or not. I know this worked beautifully and all who needed that closure could have it and those who were uncomfortable or didn't want to remember him that way, had that choice. He was so perfect and precious laying peacefully in his  ”bed”. It was so very difficult and heartbreaking to see our precious little boy's beautiful body, the one who we had fought so hard for, lying in that ”bed” but he was not there. I understand now the importance of seeing your loved one this way...because for us, we knew he was not there anymore! It was clear, this was his ” shell”, he is in heaven, healed and whole!
Beside his body we had a beautiful treasure, a picture of a glimpse of him in his heavenly body. I know this sounds strange if you haven't seen it so I will add a copy to the end of the blog. Our friend had worked on it for months. We knew Samuels disease was progressing and the ”spots” (from mitochondrial condition: Leigh's disease) in his brain were getting worse and causing him so many problems. My friend works with computer graphics. She had prayed and prayed about it for awhile. No one told us about it until the day before his funeral. My sweet friend brought the gift, wrapped in brown paper and told us to open it when we were alone. Her husband also brought his Pepridge farm truck and the kids all were loaded up with snacks. So after our visitors went home and the children were in bed, Tim and I went to see what it was.

We were overwhelmed! It was perfect. We had prayed for the Lord to please give us something special for our comfort and peace. I have read books about someone finding a note or picture that their loved one had done before they passed away and it gave great peace and comfort. Samuel couldn't draw pictures without help, he couldn't write notes without help, but he loved to do these things...and we have so many special pieces of artwork, etc. he made. But, this picture of him standing and well and whole is so beautiful. It helped so many who saw his ” shell”, to remember he is well, just not with us. As we sat right in front of his casket during his funeral, that picture helped us so much to remember the hope that we have! This picture was a gift from God to give us peace and comfort during this time. Thank you Cheryl for this priceless gift!
As we prepared for his service we were filled with grief, but we were also being carried by our Father. So many were praying for us and we could feel the power of prayer surrounding us.
So many came to give us hugs and love that day. We are blessed to be parents to Samuel. He was an incredible blessing to so many, it was evident!

Our pastor, David Rountree, who married us, baptized our children and has been through so much with us, officiated the service. It was perfect. I actually, didn't want it to end, because Samuels memory was so beautifully treasured and evident. I knew it would go on, but I wanted to treasure it all in my heart and not let that moment end.

Here are parts of the message from Samuels funeral. There is so much richness and depth, this is only a part of it. If you want more please send me your email! I pray it will bless you as it blessed us!


Mark 5:35-42

Today, many of us feel the sharp knife of a short life, but in Jesus there is more. People don't understand when we say, he's not dead, he is just asleep. The life of Samuel goes on. It wasn't a short life if he has been given an eternal life. Don't believe he is not living. In Christ and by Christ's power, he lives!

I can imagine, as you can, Samuel running down streets of gold I can see his agile body and I know that he is now made whole. There is great joy and gladness on his face. Every heartache and pain is clearly erased. The light and temporary earthly trials have worked out for his good. What we struggle with still today he has already understood.

We worship and trust a God who is resurrection and life!


Matthew 18:1-14

This text tells us God does not desire that little children perish. He does not desire that any of us should perish but that we be converted and become like a child, humble enough to trust Jesus for salvation. We don't have to live a long life of good works to get to heaven. Salvation is by grace apart from works.
Children remind us of this.  I don't really need to labor this point as far as Samuel was concerned. I have never met anyone that has doubted Samuel's salvation in the last several years. 
At many funerals, we are unsure about the final destiny of the deceased. We know what the preacher says but still we are unsure. With Samuel it is different. Samuel would light up when we talked about Jesus or heaven. He would tell you he loved Jesus. Better still, he showed us he loved Jesus with the fruit of the Spirit. Saint Francis of Assisi is noted for saying, ”Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”
In Samuel's case, he was so good at trusting Jesus and showing others he trusted Jesus, he didn't need words. We all need to learn to love and trust like that.


Psalm 139:13-18

Some people wonder what they did or what someone else did wrong when they are given a special needs child. Notice that we do not get to chose hair color or anything else, not gender, not ability, not need or special needs. God designed Samuel with special needs. It was skillful, wonderful, with great thought. It was not your choice and certainly not your fault that he has died. Let us not blame ourselves or others. Let God be God. He is the creator. Continue to be grateful for each day God gave and for each one that cared. We are all part of the picture but none of us were the cause of it. Our comfort is not in better help and our hope is not made more certain by longer life. Jesus is our comfort and he is our hope. Our hope and comfort is that Jesus is the designer who has planned our days and that he is not finished. He knows what he is doing and he has always had lots of loving thoughts of his little saints.

Samuel was wonderfully made in God's image. He was gifted with spiritual gifts upon his conversion and created for good works which he performed for God's glory.

Luke 14:21-23

Jesus is fond of wanting and seeking after children just like Samuel and compelling them to enter his kingdom. We worship a God who wants us and seeks us and fits us for heaven. God has made Samuel as precious, even more so than we have found him to be. He was not just made with special needs, he was made special.


2 Samuel 12-21-23

If some of the pain and sorrow we experience in this life is used by God to make us homesick for heaven; if it is used to detach us from the value we place on the physical things of earth; and if it is used to draw our attention away from ourselves and onto God, then it is a good thing. Praise his name.


God so loved the world that he put his son to death on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Both the life and death of Christ mattered, as does the life and death of Samuel. We die because we are sinners. The wages of sin is death. We live again in heaven only if we are united to Christ and have his Spirit living within us. Let Samuel's life and death point us to Jesus.
Most of us are guilty of saying regarding Samuel, It is not suppose to happen this way. Sure, it is not normal for the young to die before the old. But it is normal for us to die. It is normal for us to need Jesus to save us. Without Him there is no hope. If you are only hoping for a good life on earth you are to be pitied.
Samuel is a reminder that life is not about us, its all for God's glory. Samuel lived with contentment in God's plan even though that plan involved difficult trials. Live life God's way. Trust Jesus. When someone dies we want to be able to say, I am so glad that person lived.
Such is true with Samuel. The life God gave us in him was worth it and so we celebrate it this day. Through Samuel, many medical staff and family and friends heard about the love of Jesus, and that glorifies God. Through Samuel, many medical staff were helped to learn better and more caring procedures, and God was glorified. Through Samuel, we have seen a family humbly accept help just to love and be faithful to Jesus, and God is glorified. Through Samuel, many have had to get up at night, lose sleep, and money, but they have prayed, surrendered themselves to Jesus and trusted Christ more fervently and completely, and God is glorified.

I suppose there is not time enough to speak of all the big things that have glorified God through such a small life. We have been blessed by the life God has given us in Samuel Cutliff.”

-sermon notes of
Dr. David Rountree

”The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

I am thankful today for the beautiful message, the precious music ” In Better hands” was played to a slideshow, (we sang ”My Jesus, I love Thee” and ”10,000 Reasons” corporately) the beautiful solo of ”Come to Jesus”, the amazing support we had on that day and the many days to follow. The love and graciousness of so many is overwhelming! Thank you so much for ministering to our family that day and each day following.

***If you were able to be at the funeral, please comment on the blog something from the service, etc. that meant the most to you. It would be special for our family to have these reminders.


Mary Long said...

I will never forget how you raised your hands in precious worship of our saviour. It was a beautiful testimony of the hope and faith we have in Jesus! It was obvious you weren't drowning in grief because you had inner joy about eternity with Jesus and sweet Samuel! What a wonderful ceremony...I will never forget it!

Bebe said...

It was a beautiful fall day...our hearts were broken (and still are) but yet our souls rejoiced. Every detail of the day was perfect...evidence of the hand of the Almighty. The presence of the Lord was palpable and powerful...a testimony of your family's faith. The memory of singing Jesus Loves Me as the breeeze blew through the trees at Samuel's graveside will stay with me always. I love the Natalie Grant song that was played. Her lyrics beautifully summed up so many emotions. "It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down. It's like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room."...indeed it was.

Jeff said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am having a hard day, missing my girl. It is strange and amazing how sudden and hard grief can hit and from out of nowhere. I either want to go back in time or hurry up and get to heaven. But God has other plans for us right now. Our children are whole now, perfect. Thank you for sharing this and it is just further testimony of how God uses Samuel and your family. Thanks for sharing the comfort by which you have been comforted. Blessings and prayers.

Mary Elisabeth said...

I understand wanting to go back or hurry up to heaven! Wishing I could take away all of our pain. Please know you and Jennifer and in our thoughts and prayers, too.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how beautiful the service was! I will never forget it. Remembering how faithful God is! The music was so worshipful! God used David in so many ways for all of us. There was comfort for everyone. I pray that the Lord will remind you daily of all the great memories of Samuel and the beautiful service God blessed us with. I love you so much! Susannah

Melly said...

The service was a perfect testimony of Samuel's sweet and precious life. I don't think I'll ever forget what a beautiful day it was. How the Lord sent pleasant weather and a painted sunrise as we rode over to the service. I loved how Chloe sang come to Jesus. How precious Knox came over and hugged you and Tim as the service started. Hearing David list off the fruits of the Spirit Samuel displayed. It was such a blessing to look beside his bed and see the picture of him standing. I miss our boy but truly long for heaven. It was a beautiful service in every way.

Annette said...

When we were driving to the cemetery, I hadn't cried yet and that bothered me, but as we turned onto Greenville St., I saw the cars all stopped in Samuel's honor and the tears started streaming. I wanted to jump out of my truck and tell them all thank you and tell them about the precious little hero they were honoring. So thankful for old traditions still being a part of a small town.