The Home Church
April 17, 1999
We greet you today in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us that there is an appointed time for every thing and every event under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. The events of last Saturday that took the life of Missy Belton have plunged us into sorrow and mourning. The Bible also says that we are to be devoted to one another in brotherly love, rejoicing with those who are glad and weeping with those who mourn.
So it is good that you are here today to share in the sorrow and hopes of the Belton family. Steve and Wanda, Sarah and Julie, and the extended family thank you for being here and for your outpouring of love to them. The family hopes that this will be a time where we focus on Missy more than on our grief. We hope to develop a portrait for your memory of what a delightful person Missy was (and still is), how much she was loved by family and friends, and our trust in almighty God and in His Son even in difficult circumstances. Missy was a special person who herself would say she was special only because everyone is special. And that is how she treated them.
I titled this eulogy simply “Missy.” In some ways, for those of you who knew her best, I have said enough. Your portrait is already full of images and memories - her beautiful red hair framing her cherubic face with its infectious smile - the way she might cock her head when pensive - her laugh in appreciation of something funny, almost in spite of herself. A joyful mirth, a giggle, perhaps cut off a little too quickly as she might be calling attention to herself.
What qualities will we remember about Missy? You have already heard of her loving spirit, her accepting others with kindness. She seemed to be without guile or malice, like the ones pure in heart that Jesus encourages us to be that we might see God. She adjusted herself to others and events yet always seemed to enjoy herself. She’d be doing fine right here for somebody else but as my daughters and I were saying on the way here, Missy would hate this – 900 people coming here because of her?
She proved to be the quiet leader type, drawing people to herself by her sincerity and humbleness. She chose her friends well. As we said, she was a very determined girl. Who knows what she might have produced had the Lord given her more years. I remember a time that I had the privilege of coaching her in softball. She was a lefty, played first base. She was a very dependable first baseman for me. One time a line drive came very hard and before she could respond it got her shin. Most of the time that would cause a girl to cry. A lot of the time it would cause a girl to leave a game. And some time it would cause a girl to quit playing softball. Not Missy. You could see her determination; “I’m not going to cry.” And she didn’t. You couldn’t help admiring the strength, discipline, and self-control – the steel – which was there in Missy.
She was determined to overcome her shyness and was making great strides. She demonstrated for us a courage that she was not afraid to attack her weaknesses and overcome them.
In many areas, see seemed fearless. I remember her skiing as a little girl. She had the fastest snowplow in the west. She turned it into a sprint. On the ski lifts, Sarah remembers that Missy would see her dad skiing and would say, “I’m going to catch him” or “I can go faster than that.” And she often did. On warm days, you’d see her red hair flying out behind her. She would shadow her dad and I used to worry that if Steve fell, he would be run over. But they never did. She just kept on motoring. She and Sarah used to race, only Missy would let Sarah get half way down before she started. Missy beat her every time. She had a competitive spirit without being obnoxious. It developed into a quest for excellence in her accomplishments.
Something I loved about Missy, and all the Belton children, was that she liked adults. I believe that we had a friendship that stood on its own, not just the friend of my child or my friend’s child. She knew me as Jaime and I never doubted her affection for me. Once in a while she would ask me a question that I knew she had been thinking about. I think one was “Jaime, why can’t we wear T-shirts at school?” I gave a long answer and she said simply okay. Another time she asked a deeper question. Again I gave a long answer and again she said simply okay. She just wanted to know.
Missy was observant and responsive to correction. When Missy young, probably due to her shyness, she would not greet her mom when her mom was returning from a trip. Wanda wisely went to Missy and asked how it would make Missy feel if the family ignored her when she returned from camp or a trip. Missy said she would be sad. Wanda told Missy that’s how she felt when Missy ignored her when returning from a trip. From that time on Missy was always at the door to greet Wanda. Missy was very able to be corrected.
As believers, our greatest concern for our children is that they be saved. Missy believed early in life and prayed for Christ’s forgiveness with Wanda at the age of four. Just like her, when she was in the sixth grade she wanted to make sure, so she asked Wanda questions and prayed again, showing the diligent and sober side of her character.
I have here a paper that Missy wrote for a class at Biola, dated March 10 of this year. It is entitled, “Attributes of God.” In it she writes on God’s holiness, His sovereignty, His omniscience, His righteousness, and His immutability. The paper is well done. I’d like to speak to you in Missy’s own words about God’s sovereignty. Missy never gave speeches, it was too much attention for her to bear. But today, I would like to let her give a little speech through me about her perspective on what has happened to her. Bear with me as I read so as to be true to her flow. Note the combination of research, scripture, and Missy’s own words as I read.
“Sovereignty means holding the position of ruler, royal, reigning. It also means independent and superior to all others; it means God controls everything and can do anything. Sovereignty refers to the fact that God is in charge of everything that happens; everything that happens is under his control. When we think of this it seems like we do not have a choice in the matter of what we do with our life. How could God give us free will if he is in complete control over everything? I think he chooses to let us have free will and to not control us in that area because he wants it to be our choice to follow him. He controls our situations and what happens to us but he does not keep control of how we respond to our situations. (Pretty good theology for an 18-year-old.)
God controls everything that happens to everyone in the world. He is involved in everything that happens to people in the world. “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.” She then cites several other verses that illustrate God’s sovereignty.
(And now listen to Missy’s application of these points.)
I can feel confident that God has controlled my life and I can have faith that I am where he wants me to be. I know that God will not let anything stop his plan for my life. I can feel assured that my being at Biola is God’s plan for my life, and there is a reason that I am here. I should not worry about political things because I know that whatever happens is in God’s will. I know that God is sovereign over who or if I get married so I do not need to worry about that. I can trust that he will show me who and when to marry. I can feel secure that God controls the world. God can turn around the bad situations or good. When things happen we accept them because we know God is in charge so it is in His divine plan. God is still on the throne when bad things happen to us. God’s timing is perfect and I need to wait for him.”
Missy had a good life. She had loving, adoring parents, was the middle sister in a Christian family, had close friends, accomplishments, love of things beautiful such as music, and exciting things such as skiing. She knew how much she was loved especially by her parents. She had a short life, like our Lord. She didn’t get to be married, like our Lord.
Steve and Wanda want you to know that God is good to them even though He spared them not in this. They proclaim to you the greatness of the Lord and their spirit rejoices in God their Savior, for He has looked with mercy on our lowliness. For the mighty God has done great things for us and His mercy will reach from age to age. And Holy is His Name.
I want to thank each one of you from the Beltons, for being here with your presence, for all your tears this week, your prayers, your hugs, even your food. I would like to leave you with an exhortation from Missy’s life, an illustration. Let Missy’s life and early passing inspire us to put away worldly and self-centered habits and to glorify God with our lives. For you know not when the call will come for you.
I also want to thank the Beltons. All week every one of us has said “Why Missy”? The answer is that the Father will answer in His time and in His due time we will understand that it was right and that He knew what He was doing after all. And that is what we call faith. It is not something we can see.
We have also asked “Why the Beltons?” They give and give to the Christian community, to those in need, or whoever needs a place to stay. Their dignity and grace through this has been a tremendous testimony. In this time, they, who have given so much to others, have needed us. Their willingness to share their sorrow with us has drawn our community together in love.
So I want to leave you with Missy Belton. A prize. A special, special girl. We ask why has God shortened her life. Perhaps a more appropriate response is, “Thank you Lord for Missy and every moment we got. Why would you bless us with such a one as this? And thank you Lord for keeping her now in heavenly places awaiting the resurrection of the righteous.”