Text of the eulogy for Karen and Cole Ferguson
Memorial service for Karen and Cole
In the tenth chapter of John, the 10th verse, Jesus said these words:
The thief comes only to kill, and steal and destroy.
On Monday, Oct. 10, 2011…he came to kill, and steal and destroy. Again. Whenever tragedy strikes there are always well meaning comments aimed to comfort…to the effect that God somehow needed those who passed on for some big task in heaven. To which I say, God didn’t do this. We forget the basic facts that underpin our existence here… we are in a war, between good and evil… and in a war, there are always casualties. Especially when those on the side of good, stand against evil. Sometimes we forget that, until we stare evil in the face… beginning several months ago, a family was pushed into a corner by evil. They did what Godly people always do…they pushed back.
Today we are here to honor and celebrate the lives of 2 special people. Not every hero is a marine, or an infantryman or a Navy Seal. Today we celebrate and honor 2 heroes. We all know that not every battle is one to be fought. Sometimes we choose our battles, sometimes we choose to fight another day, sometimes we choose to cut our losses and run. But not this time. On Monday, at 1:30 in the afternoon, thousands of miles from any military battlefield, Karen Brown Ferguson decided to fight. It wasn’t a fair fight, but that didn’t really matter. Karen, all of 4’11, and 100 pounds soaking wet, fought and died a hero, saving 5-year old Casey and choosing to stay and defend her son, Cole. She could have escaped with Casey, she could have chanced going for help herself… but she chose to stay and fight and protect. What a hero! Many of you today, as mothers, can feel that determination. You know that she never even considered escaping herself. It wasn’t even a question. She looked evil in the face and wouldn’t back down. Let her courage be known, let it be shouted from the rooftops, let the people in the marketplaces and in the town squares and throughout the cities and towns across this land know that some things still matter. Courage and love and faith and honor and truth and standing up for those who cannot defend themselves are worth more than protecting one’s own life. Karen knew that and when the thief came, she refused to run.
Karen was so many things to so many people. Wife, mother, friend, confidant, daughter, sister. She lived a life of sacrifice. Having married a sailor, she sacrificed to be a Navy wife, she then sacrificed to be a preacher’s wife. Someone said last night that she was the best preacher’s wife ever. But Karen was more than a preacher’s wife… she had her own ministry. Many spoke last night of her being their 2nd mom. How in the world did she have time for so many people? I think this church got two for the price of one! I first met Karen and her family in Vicksburg Miss., where my dad was a minister at their church. My brother and I had the pleasure of staying at their house for a week, when our parents went out of town on a trip. I was about 8, my brother 11. We stayed friends over the years and eventually became brother and sister. When she and Les began dating, I really thought she was messing up… I see now, brother that God gave you exactly who you needed. How many here today had just the friend they needed? The most fitting tribute is the one where we hold her up as a model of the wife, and the mother that all women should strive to be. Faithful to her husband, faithful to her family, she sacrificed her life in living to serve God and his people and she sacrificed her life in dying to protect her two sons who weren’t able to protect themselves.
We are also here today to honor the life of Trevor Cole Ferguson. As I listened to this church talk about their love for Cole last night, I was amazed at the number of people outside his family that he touched. In the Ferguson family, no one is loved more than Cole. We have so many funny memories of Christmases and family get-togethers… On my Dad’s last birthday, we all gathered in Hot Springs, Arkansas to celebrate it with him. Butch and Karen and the boys all came and we had a great time. One thing you have to know about Cole is that he could trash talk with the best. His ability was legendary. He was even able to combine praying and trash-talking at the same time.
Tell that story.
Tell the story of Cole riding in my truck.
One of the stories I love hearing is how Cole wanted to serve. He was a permanent fixture at worship here at Orange Grove. Isn’t it funny how he was determined to serve in the way he could serve and in so many of our churches, we have to beg people to serve? Cole was a hero, too. His smile was larger than life. His love for family and friends and church was vibrant and unencumbered by his physical disability.
Every single one of us has questions today. Why does this happen? What purpose does this serve? Why do the righteous suffer? We have questions to which answers will not be known, yet. In scripture there were many who cried out to God in desperation. Psalm 22 records these words of David…
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
Even a man who was described as a man after God’s own heart, experienced that ‘dark night of the soul’. What would he say to us today? What would Jesus say to us today? What would God say to us today?
The word is HOPE. It’s a common word. The biblical meaning of the word is much more closely aligned with expectation and anticipation. It’s a word that evokes confidence and faith. Paul said that hope does not disappoint us. And that faith, hope and love go together. And that when we grieve, we do not grieve as men who have no hope. What we hope for, what we expect and anticipate is John’s words in the book of Revelation, chapter 21, that the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
This is what we hope for. This is what we eagerly expect and anticipate. Karen’s whole life was a living, breathing demonstration of hope. Hope in family, hope in her church family, hope in the LORD. You do know, I hope that there are easier ways to live life than that of being a minister’s wife. But she embraced it because she understood the bigger picture. She was a part of providing hope for others.
And Cole. Only God knows the dreams he must have had of what it would be like to be whole and healthy and have a set of strong legs. He has them now. The next time you see him, don’t look for the wheelchair. He is matching Karen, stride for stride. I don’t believe time is the same in heaven. When you see him next, he’ll probably say, ‘hey, there you are’.
Les…your wife loved you with everything she had. Your boy did too. And they knew you loved them and would have gladly given your life, if you had been given the opportunity. Live the rest your days in hope…in expectation, that God’s promises are true.
Kyle, Conner and Casey. Your mom made the ultimate sacrifice for your brother and she would have done the same for you. You have some big shoes to fill. You will see her again. Cole will be waiting to show you around his new house.
Karissa. She loved having a daughter. She was so proud of you.
Bob, Joan, Scott and Robin. Live your lives with hope.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? ?The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. ?He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. ?He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. ?Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Hide me now ?Under your wings ?Cover me ?Within Your mighty hands ??
When the oceans rise and thunders roar ?I will soar with You, above the storm Father, You are king over the flood ?I will be still and know You are God ??
Find rest my soul, in Christ alone ?Know His power, in quietness and trust
FeedbackI wrote a blog entry about Karen and Cole, and “hero” was exactly the word I used to describe Karen.TinaNorth Atlanta Church of ChristNorcross, GA
USAOctober, 30 2011Les you have my deep,s concern and pray,s for you and your family may you never lose your LOVE for the LORD and the body of Christ I to am going thru struggles not as great by it is a struggle but with the LORD all thing,s are possible brother Bill,Jer 10:23,the HOPE is John 3:16.William B Sharar JrCarlisleMt Holly Spg , Pa
USAOctober, 27 2011