Undying Love: Carol Hobbs Memorial Service
Pastor and theologian Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline , says this of the importance of Celebration in our lives, “ Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong. Scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10). We cannot continue long in anything without it. Women endure childbirth because the joy of motherhood lies on the other side. Young married couples struggle through the first difficult years of adjustment because they value the insurance of a long life together. Parents hold steady through the teen years, knowing that their children will emerge at the other end human once again.” (Foster, 191).
Celebration brings joy into life and joy makes us strong. I don’t think Carol Hobbs ever read those words, but judging by all I have heard of her I think she would agree with the sentiment. I have heard the testimony of witnesses to her life. And they testify to a Life full of love and empty of regrets. A life that brought joy into our lives and that joy made us strong. Joy flows from our hearts as love flows from our hearts. The deeper the love the deeper the joy. And the Lord tells us this about His love.
“I have loved you with an undying love.”
Though I don’t know if Carol ever read this chapter of the Bible, I think she would agree with its sentiment as well. Hers was a life full of love. And her love has now been embraced by an everlasting love, an undying love.
Carol was born in Norfolk, Va. and was a loving wife to Dale Hobbs for 38 years. She was a devoted Mother to her son, Clifford Michael and daughter Jenny Hathaway. She also adored her 3 grandchildren, Caitlyn Michael, Kayla Hathaway and Hanna Hathaway.
Carol Hobbs had a big heart. She was full of tenacity, determination, and compassion. She loved kids. She never met a kid she did not fall in love with and she spent her time tutoring troubled kids. She loved music and dancing. She was a straight shooter and expected that you be a straight shooter in return. She loved to travel. When Cliff was six years old he and his mother drove cross country. Even though his mother was not good with maps and could not drive in the dark this did not deter Carol from giving her son an experience He would always remember. When Jenny graduated High School, the family again embarked on a trip across the country to celebrate. One of Dale’s favorite memories with his wife was their cruise to Alaska. Dale could barely describe to me the beauty of that trip. But he did remember that bald eagles were as common as pigeons up there.
“Behold, I will bring them from the north country and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,”
The Lord’s heart is to bring people together in His Love. And that was Carol’s heart as well. We all have that one person in our families who by the strength of their love brought our family together. And when they are gone our families are not the same. Carol was the center of Love for her family. For twenty five years Carol poured her heart and soul into her annual family and friends picnic. Dale would take care of the barbeque pit but Carol was the force that drew hundreds of people together each year. I understand that the event grew until there was a dunk tank, miniature ponies to ride, and clowns to paint faces. We know that Hospitality Heals. When we welcome our friends and family, when we welcome the stranger, and those who are estranged, the Lord can work healing in our lives. Those of you who attended Carol’s picnic tasted and saw the healing the Lord brought into your lives through the love in Carol’s heart. Carol’s love was the type of love that was faithful. The type of love that warmed your heart over time. The type of love that did not let go when it was discouraged. Cliff told me a story over the phone that I thought revealed Carol’s faithfulness. When Cliff was around five years old he cut his elbow. He must have gotten an infection or something like that because he got sick and went into a coma for five days. His mother was the last face he remembered seeing when he closed his eyes. And His mother’s face was the first face he saw when he opened His eyes.
“Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.”
We can always make more money, we can always have more power and prestige, but we can never have more time. It is the most precious thing we have. So should we not use our time to make room for love? Should we not make time to dance, celebrate, and be merry? That is what Carol did. She made time for family, she made time to celebrate, she made time to love. To honor the love she showed us let us love. Let us make time to celebrate with those we love. And yet her love was not her own. For the scriptures tell us, “and this is love not that we loved God but that God first loved us and sent his only begotten son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) Carol Hobbs loved because God first loved her. Let us love for God first loved us. God loves you. He has loved you with an undying love and thus he continues His faithfulness to you.
“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
Declares the Lord. “
We can only imagine what it will be like when we walk by Jesus’ side. We can only imagine what our eyes will see when we behold him in all His glory. The Apostle Paul tells us that the sufferings of this present age pale in comparison to the glory that awaits us (Romans 8:18). All of creation has been groaning for the children of God of God to be revealed in all their glory. And I imagine that Carol is free at last, she is free at last. And she is beholding the glory of the Lord. It is an Alaskan cruise that never ends. There are mountains with peaks that stretch to the heavens capped with snow that is a wondrous white. There is a sea that stretches on to eternity with clear waters full of glory. There is a crispness to the air that brings life to the lungs. Carol is free and she rises up in her dance. She welcomes the saints and the angels and she has prepared a feast for them. And Jesus is the first to try out the dunk tank, because Jesus tells us we are to have faith like a child, and children do love dunk tanks. For the LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. ( Isaiah 40:31). The Lord has promised us these things. And for Carol that promise is fulfilled. And for us He has promised as that He will turn our mourning into joy, that He, the Lord will comfort us and give us gladness for sorrow. Not by our own strength, not by my words, but by the power of His Love. For thus says the Lord, “I have Loved you with an undying love.”
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.