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What If You're Not Called?

 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NKJV)

This is an unusual text for me to read in connection with a funeral, (we typically hear it at a wedding ceremony), but you will understand why I chose this passage in a few moments.  First, I want to say that it is a distinct honor to be able to speak at the home-going service for the sainted lady who lies in state before us, Dorothy Kuhtenia, in her lovely red jacket and beautiful white hair.  She looks like she could sit up and take charge of all of the commotion right now.   Indeed, I halfway expect her to do exactly that and scold us for making such a fuss over her today. 

To which I would say, Yes, we are making a fuss over you today.  It’s about time that the world knows what a fabulous lady and saint of God Dorothy Kuhtenia really was.  (It wouldn’t have done much good to do this while she was still living because she wouldn’t have stood for it!)  She was an exquisite Christian woman, pure, resolute, devoted, conscientious and strong.  There was no aspect of kingdom labor that she spurned, whether administrative, custodial, or some other menial task that invariably requires the unique skill of a pastor’s wife.  She cooked, cleaned, organized, planned, prepared, counseled and was pretty good at giving orders.  She decorated, orchestrated, motivated and adjusted what was happening in the church, and did all of this most of the time without her pastor/husband telling her what to do (or maybe not even knowing what all she did.)  

You’ve already heard much of the kind of lady she was, loving, compassionate, proper, holy, insistent on excellence, and faithful.  Her Christianity was not a façade, contrived for appearance sake only.  She was an authentic, genuine Christian, forgiving, but always expecting the very best out of everyone. 

Perhaps the reason why there is no gut-wrenching sorrow and grief expressed here today, is because we knew he kind of lady she was.  Nobody who knew her is feeling any uncertainty of her eternal destination. 

But the world does not act this way when confronted by death.  The world’s view is summed up in Dylan Thomas’s oft quoted poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light!”

For the born-again Christian, there is no dying of the light.  Revelation 21:23-25 says “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.  And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.  And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.”

This is why death has no sting and the grave has no ultimate victory.  We do not leave here without hope in our hearts!  1 Thessalonians 4:13-17  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Just for the record here this afternoon, we do believe that there is life after death.  There is a rapture, a judgment, a place of eternal bliss for those who love His appearing.  There is a reason why we repent of our sins, why we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of those sins, and why we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This is not just a creed that makes you Pentecostal; this is a prerequisite to make you rapture-ready! 

So, while I could reiterate all the wonderful attributes of our dear Sister Kuhtenia, I think it is far more useful for us to understand why she was this way.  We cannot capture the essence of her character simply by knowing who she was, or by recounting the many accomplishments of her life, or even by listing all the great attributes that describe her.  We can know the who and the what, but unless we can discern the why, then we have failed to have that necessary epiphany—we would have come and gone from the light, but having our eyes closed to enlightenment.  

Let us begin to peel back the layers.  Dorothy Kuhtenia, a girl from St. Louis, followed her husband to Connecticut to pastor three different churches, to Lincoln, Nebraska, to Van Wert, Ohio.  She threw herself into the work of a pastor’s wife, the wife of a drug-rehab director, a presbyter’s wife, a ladies ministries worker, a Mother’s Memorial fundraiser, plus a lot of other roles she played that most of us don’t know about.  Never once, however, did I ever hear her say that she was called to the ministry.  I do know that she never sought the spotlight, that she never aspired to a pulpit ministry, that she never competed with her husband for a leadership role. 

I speak to you from the perspective of one who is called into the ministry.  I will tell you unequivocally, however, that there are many things I have done in the course of my ministry that I would not have done had I not been called!  There are chores I have done, indignities I have suffered, insults I have taken and jobs imposed upon me that—were it not for the call, would never have happened. 


And yet, here is a lady who probably dealt with more hurts, disappointments, tragic circumstances and tough days than most of us, yet without a specific, definite call to ministry!    

Allow me one comparison from the scriptures.  The Apostle Peter, one of the inner circle that surrounded Christ, received a definite call to be a disciple.  Yet, when Jesus was going through his week of passion, this called man warmed himself by a strange fire and denied that he ever knew the Master—three times, one time using rather salty language!  Even his calling wasn’t enough to keep him faithful.


At the same time, there were the women.  The women who stayed close by Jesus when he hung on the cross.  The women who went to the tomb early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus.  The women who had no specific call, but hovered over the body of Jesus to make sure it was properly taken care of.  They were there because they were driven by love.


Here is such a lady.  Let the world take note.  Let called men and women of God take note.  Let the saints of the church pay close attention.  Let the family look carefully at the mother, the grandmother, the sister, the aunt and the relative who stood side by side with her preacher husband.  She was a Ruth who said,   “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17  Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 (NKJV)


The question, then, is why?  Why was this lady so dedicated?  Why was she willing to work so hard for the kingdom’s sake?  Why did she treat the things of God with such reverence and respect?  It wasn’t a call.  Her husband was called, but she never professed to a call.


There is something stronger than a call.  There is a commodity that the Scriptures tell us is greater than faith, greater than hope.  It’s called love.  You are looking at the picture of love as it was meant to be.  Dorothy Kuhtenia did what she did because she loved her husband and her Lord.  And because she loved her Lord, she loved His work, His Word, and His church. 


As we contemplate the life of Dorothy Kuhtenia, aspire to be like her if you so choose, but if all you can do is imitate her character, or try to mimic her in her talents and abilities, in her actions and deeds, then you will have missed the whole point.  Grasp her motivation of love, and it will produce all the other attributes that you admire in her.


Hebrews 6:10 (NKJV) 10  For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


When you understand her love, then you will understand her God.


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”





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