On Friday morning, November 24, 2006, the Lord sent an angel to escort the spirit of sister Bertha Sellers from this life into eternity. For many mortals remaining on earth, that occasion represents immeasurable grief, sorrow, and loss. Yet, the Bible provides immense comfort in the words of Psalm 116:15, which reads, "Precious in the sight of the Lord are the death of His saints."
It has been my privilege to have known Bertha all of my life, a priceless blessing indeed. My early memories of her are as a boy growing up as her next-door neighbor. More recently, my relationship with her involved my serving as her preacher for the last seventeen years. I knew her, perhaps, better than I knew any other person outside of my own family. Because of that, I have been able to observe that Bertha Sellers was the most spiritually minded person that I have ever known.
The apostle Paul said, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). By every form of measurement, it would seem that these words were used as the rule by which Bertha lived each day. She was not consumed by the things of this world. Her mind was filled with thoughts of God, Christ, the Bible, the church, the lost, and heaven.
I feel safe in saying that Bertha's 88 years of life can be summarized by four words "She was a Christian!" She did not just act like a Christian or pretend to be a Christian; she was a Christian! She was a Christian wife, a Christian mother, grandmother, neighbor, and friend. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, she was a Christian!
Bertha had only one goal in life, and that was to go to heaven and take every single member of her family with her. Several years before her decease, she wrote a letter to her children with instructions that it not be read until her departure from this life. In it she wrote, "I am so thankful that you all are Christians, and I pray you will be faithful to Him all your lives. This should be your most important aim in life ... My prayer is to meet you all in heaven some day, without the loss of one." This brings to mind the words of the apostle Peter who wrote, "Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease" (2 Pet. 1:12-15). Like Peter, Bertha wanted to remind her family to be faithful to the Lord while she was here, and even after she was gone.
Bertha lived the Christian life before her family every day, serving as an example for them to follow. From birth, her children were taken to church every time the doors were open that they might learn faithfulness to God and the importance of scriptural worship. She taught them the Bible and the importance of living according to its holy precepts. "And that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). While some families were busy making plans to go camping together, or to go to Europe together, Bertha was planning for her family to go to heaven together. She believed this to be a lifetime work. Even after her children were grown, she kept track of their faithfulness in worship. If they were traveling, she wanted to know where they worshiped. She was not so concerned about how far they went in life, but where they went in eternity. With the apostle John, she could say, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4). Bertha's life was a vivid demonstration of the powerful influence of the God-given role of women in the church. Nothing in life exceeded her love for her family and the family of God. Were she to speak to us today, she would likely echo the words of Paul, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). -206 E. Penn Ave., Pennsboro, WV 26415.
Return to West Virginia Christian