Before the Face of God

photo by Josh Scholten

“To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. 
To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God.
To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity.
It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God.
It is a life that is open before God.
It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord.
It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance.
It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.”
R.C. Sproul

We buried and bid goodbye to my husband’s mother Emma yesterday.  In the past, too many family funerals have taken place in mid-winter, with snow and ice and north wind blowing chill at the graveside.  This service was different, a full week after the first hay had been cut and baled in the fields around town, with pink dogwoods and rhododendrons moving past peak bloom, with summer moving in fast to push aside the promise of spring.

In a way, burying the dead in the midst of so much life and growth and beauty seems discordant and not at all fitting.  But life has never stopped the inevitable crush of death before–with one exception over two thousand years ago.

Her children wrote in her eulogy that she lived “coram Deo“–literally “in the face of God.”  Her pastor eloquently described her as the woman of Proverbs 31:30: “a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”

Emma lived under the gaze of God, under the authority of God, open before God, captivated by the Word of God.  Her life was long and fruitful, loved and loving.   It was right and fitting to bury her surrounded by so much lush life, growth and beauty, as she left her gifts to surround the open grave in the form of her children, her grandchildren — some who had traveled many miles, her greatgrandchildren and the many people, like myself, who had been touched directly by her conviction and devotion.

And we walked away from that gaping grave knowing: whatever we do, wherever we do it, it is to be whole and holy before Him.

Coram Deo.

8 thoughts on “Before the Face of God

  1. What a tribute to your Mom(in love) and grandmother to your children,I was blessed to read it and challenged to be more like her.


  2. Peace to you and to all the family . What a time of reflection this is for all . Emma left showing the way to heaven .
    What a wonderful blessing to have Emma in your lives all these years .
    Grandma’s and Mom’s are irreplaceable …always missed and never forgotten.


  3. Emily, a beautiful post. May the Lord strengthen your family in these days of loss and remembering, and may the Lord sustain you with the HOPE he makes possible.

    I’m so grateful for your posting the Coram Deo quote.

    I’d come across a snippet of that quote (the first line) in a book recently (Nancy Leign DeMoss: The Lies Women Believe), but I don’t recall there being an attribution. I journalled about it, and have been praying about it since mid-April, but I greatly appreciate having the fuller context of the quote, and now thinking of it in light of what you shared.

    What you wrote about your mother-in-law is something I would love someone to be able to write and say about my life:

    [she] lived under the gaze of God, under the authority of God, open before God, captivated by the Word of God.

    The death of a loved one, while hard can be a blessing if we allow God to challenge us and help us examine our lives in light of eternity – are we living for His glory? Is our passion for Him, or is it for things that are passing away?

    I need this challenge lately. Your post is part of the way God is getting my attention. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    Karen B.


  4. thank you for your reflections, Karen, and this past week has taught me much about loss and love and legacy. I am challenged too. Yes, He has my attention as well. Blessings, Emily


  5. Emily,
    Thanks for sharing the gift within you, words with heart tenderness. I am so blessed to share life with you, sister!


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