I Love You The Most

i-love-you-mostGenesis 47:29-30 “When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him…’Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.’”

“I love you the most.” My mom finished most all of her goodbyes and goodnights with those words. Whenever we said, “I love you,” she always responded with that signature phrase of her affection.  She enjoyed having the last word. And we enjoyed hearing it. The last word…little did I know.

Mom lived with us for the last twelve years of her life. At 78 years-old, she moved from Southern Ohio to become a “Pennsylvanian.” She adapted amazingly well, but as the saying goes, “You can take the girl out of Ohio, but you can’t take Ohio out of the girl” (or something along those lines). When she died, it seemed fitting to take her ashes home—back to Ohio— for burial. My desire to bring her full circle made me think of Jacob (Genesis 47).

Before Jacob died, he had one request of his son. He asked Joseph to swear he would not bury him in Egypt. He wanted his bones to be carried home, back to the land where his fathers were buried and where God had promised Abraham he would make them a great people. His request reflected more than a desire to come full circle; it indicated his deep faith that the promise would be fulfilled. One day the now fledgling nation would return and carry out their unique purpose in God’s plan.

As we approached Mom’s gravesite, I carefully laid flowers on the grave before we prayed, read scripture and sang a hymn. But I was drawn to the back of the headstone directly in front of Mom’s grave. I could hardly believe my eyes. There, etched clearly were the words, “I love you most.”

Like Jacob, Mom’s burial brought her full circle. And like Jacob, those simple words let me know God’s purpose for her life had been completed as well. Her legacy of loving others more than herself lives on.

God had a unique plan for Israel and for Mom, for nations and for individuals. For you. For me. May we let him complete it.

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