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.