Joy Hankins
Last week as soon as I got back into the office I got the call that my Aunt had died. She has had heart trouble for quite some time. When we were home last December to visit the family for Christmas we wanted to go and visit as she had recently moved out of my home town and to the east side of Michigan with her oldest son. Unfortunately we didn't make it over. I hadn't visited with her since last summer when she was still in town and made her regular visit to see us. Joy was a cake decorator for most of her life and I can't count how many cakes she made for my brothers and I as a kid, even as an adult, let alone my wedding cake and graduation cake that I still remember very well. I also remember her for her very powerful opera like voice that she was very proud of. She would sing an old hymn or favorite classic and literally raise the roof off the place. I know because I always sat next to her at church and even though I loved to hear her when she sang and did solos in the service my ears would ring all day long after-words.

The funeral was Saturday in Michigan and I needless to say spent my whole day at church here in Northern Arizona fulfilling my responsibilities for our 7 weekend services including our Good Friday set, Sunrise service and regular Easter services. I was happy she was in a better place and not in so much pain anymore but felt bad that I wasn't able to make it to the funeral services which put a damper on the weekend as a whole and was a big challenge. I just wanted to be present for the service and celebrate her life there in person.

Saturday evening in our first service I reached my point and I began to think about the events of the day as I was leading worship. Aunt Joy had always been a huge encouragement to me in my music ministry. Even when I left to go to college to study music I remember her excitement about it. As part of our worship we sang "How Great Is Our God" with the chorus of the old favorite, "How Great Thou Art" at the end. It was at that moment that I had an amazing thought about what was happening right there in the middle of our worship.

As I was singing and leading l could picture her also singing before God and belting out those high notes as she has always done. But now she like so many others was able to sing those praises to the Lord face to face. (luckily I'm sure God enjoys praise even if it makes His ears ring.) Amazingly enough at that same time I was also there singing too. Somewhere in that crowded throne room I was there leading my congregation in where she already was before God in ultimate worship of Him.

It sounds very strange and Sci-Fi I know but as I continued to think about it I realized how true it was. Through worship we all have access to the throne room and come together with everyone on earth and those who have gone before in a supernatural way to meet for the same purpose. To worship the King. We all can gather together in that place, before God, at anytime.

Both of us were in the presence of God, in worship and that was very awesome. I didn't get to visit her over the holidays or be there for the celebration of her life but in that moment we had the honor of doing something even greater, together.

So there we were on that Saturday.....
Joy face to face with God.
Me, singing & leading others in music to God and being surrounded by His presence.
Joy celebrating a new life in heaven and
me, celebrating new life through the ressurection and the Joy we've been given over death.

Thank You..... for Joy.