Last September my mother-in-law asked me to preach her funeral. I told her that I would be honored.
Juanita Frances Cambron Weaver passed from this life to the next last Friday. As I sit on an airplane thinking about what I will say on Tuesday morning, it occurs to me that I owe her a debt I cannot repay.
Born in Alabama six years before the Great Depression, Juanita’s family was poor. They moved to Texas where her father thought chances of finding work would be better. Her mother died when she was 10, and the four children lived with different relatives for a time. We can’t imagine how hard her childhood was.
In 1939 she married Dewey Carlton Weaver. DC to most folks, he was always Carl to her. He was 19. She was 16.
When I met them almost 40 years ago, they were leaders in their church. Juanita was the treasurer. Carl was the volunteer facilities manager, building committee chairman, and head usher. I assumed that like my parents they had been born and raised in the church, but as I got to know them, I learned that neither had come from a family of Christians. Faith had not been part of their life until they married.
Here’s how they explained it to me: “We were so young when we married. We lived in a trailer–not a double wide, now; it was more like a pop-up camper. We realized that if two teenagers were going to make it together in this world, we would need help from beyond us. So one Sunday we walked to this little church in the neighborhood.” They were baptized in the creek and became members of Temple Baptist Church.
By the time Lynda came along, her family was deeply immersed in the life of the church. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening you would find them there. Juanita and Carl were best friends with the pastor and his wife.
So it was that Lynda Weaver’s journey was from Sunday School to youth group to Baptist Student Union to Associate Campus Minister in Ft. Worth to Campus Minister in Baltimore to Southern Seminary in Louisville where I was introduced to her in January 1974.
We met and married and raised two sons because when her parents were 16 and 19 they were given the wisdom to realize that if they were going to make it, they would need help from beyond themselves. They discovered a Savior and were welcomed into this community called the church which supported, encouraged, embraced, and sustained them all the days of their lives.
Their decision to visit a church so many years ago gave me the three most valuable people in my life—Lynda, Free and Aaron.
So you see what I mean when I say I am indebted to my mother-in-law. And I’m pretty sure that debt is ocean-deep.