On Saturday, we will gather to celebrate the life of one of our most faithful and enduring figures which graced the life of Peninsula. The staff was just with Eileen Summerfelt on her 90th birthday in February (Valentine’s Day). Her downhill slide was obvious. She is now happily home with Jesus.
She wasn’t perfect, obviously. But what I will say is that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen God continue to be at work in a life as He was with Eileen. And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. God softened her heart over the years and she was faithful to her Savior. Always. The last years of life were not easy. But she never wavered in her faith, and it showed. She was positive, enduring the struggles of life like a trooper. And let me be honest, she faced some curveballs in life.
She cared for aging parents for a very long time. She buried two husbands and one son. Heartache was never far from her experience. But I think she let those experiences temper her life, not allowing bitterness to take root. When you are widowed at age 50, you could walk away and question God. Not Eileen. Her faith sustained her.
Perhaps you may not know, but Eileen had an amazing voice (I never heard her sing a solo, however). She also played the piano and was our preschool music director for 25 years. Her heart was here and she always loved for me to give her updates on the preschool. She loved children. And music.
A couple of days before she passed away, she carefully thanked her family for all their care and she shared her deep love for them, and for Peninsula. Life had been good to her. She missed coming to church each Sunday, it was hard for her to not be here among us all. In her last days, she opened her guarded heart and let her love flow.
Back in the days when we struggled as a church family, most of her friends abandoned Peninsula for greener pastures. But not Eileen and Dick (her second husband). They stuck it out, even if it meant that they had to endure some loneliness. They did forge new friendships and always chose the path which honored God. I will always love them for that. After our 40 Days of Purpose experience, she never uttered another word of complaint about music and worship. I think she realized that it was not about her own personal preferences, which were strong, but about the church and God’s glory. I’ve never seen anyone’s heart change so much over these years, at an age when change can be difficult to see.
This morning, there is no doubt that Eileen is enjoying the presence of Jesus. We have been enriched because of her investment in our lives. Another faithful saint has gone ahead of us. We mourn, with hope. And we are resolved to serve the Savior until He calls us home. We will do all for His glory.
“My dear friends, stand firm and don’t be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (CEV)