I have been requested to post the eulogy I offered at Andree’s Ziehmer’s funeral held at First Baptist Church, California, on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Andree, who had served as my executive assistant for more than six years, was killed in an automobile accident on Friday, Nov. 19. What I said the packed congregation at the funeral, as well as the the prayer I offered, follows:
I want to thank Carl and the Ziehmer family for bestowing this privilege on me. Andree was more than my assistant, she was my friend and a blessing and I thank God for allowing our paths to cross.
When a bashful Carl Ziehmer got up the courage to ask 16-year-old Andree Lee Murphy out for a date, little did he realize what God was about to do. I love Carl for many reasons, but the most important reason is because we know the same Savior. Carl met his Savior when he was 11. I met the same Savior when I was 10. Our Savior’s name is Jesus.
So given what we have come to know about Andree all these years and given the fact that Carl had years earlier placed his trust in Christ, it should have come as no surprise what would develop from that first date so many years ago.
They went out that night and had a great time and when Carl brought Andree home he mustered up the intestinal fortitude to ask what she would be doing the next night. Andree’s reply? “Well I guess I’ll be doing whatever you’ll be doing.” Carl’s heart nearly burst with joy and thus a relationship began that would span nearly five decades, produce three wonderful children, two beautiful granddaughters and a multitude of joyous memories too many to count.
TIME magazine should have interviewed Andree about marriage. Why? Well just this week TIME’s latest cover story asks the question: “Who needs marriage? A Changing Institution.“ At a time when our nation is actually debating what constitutes a family and the very definition of marriage, I point you my dear friends to Carl and Andree Ziehmer for the answer. Absolute totally devotion for life to each other best describes the marriage of Carl and Andree Ziehmer. And it was this way because they sought to obey Christ.
And you know, Andree was a smart lady. I mean she was as theologically astute as any Christian lady I have ever known, including my mother. Andree had a fully developed Christian worldview and it was based on the Word of God. Before she died, she jotted down several Bible verses and Pastor Greg shared those with me last night. Both point us to a mighty, holy, omniscient and omnipresent God. One of them was Psalm 19:1: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Another was Hebrews 1:3: “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”
Andree believed with all her heart that God was in charge of everything. And as a redeemed child of God it was her place in this world to honor Him and bring glory to Him in everything she did. Consider this note she jotted down before she left for Glory: “God is most glorified in us when we’re most satisfied in Him.” Andree was most satisfied with Jesus because she knew he came to save her from her sin, that he died on the cross as payment for her sin, that he overcame death on the third day and in defeating death secured a resurrection and eternal life for her and that she will live with Him forever.
It was a blessing to have Andree as my co-laborer for Christ for the last six years of her life. And when I think about all of the admirable qualities she displayed, I think of Galations 5:22 which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Andree strived to exhibit every one of them. The positive impact that her testimony has had on this community and this state is too great to calculate. Think of the lives she touched in this church, the little children impacted by her service to this school district and I can personally vouch for the numerous contributions she has made for the cause of Christ to Southern Baptists throughout Missouri.
To say that she has been dependable is an understatement. Why twice yesterday in The Pathway office, I, out of habit, called for her by name. She used to always reply, “Yes?” But yesterday that response never came because now she is being called by name by the King of King and Lord of Lords. Jesus is where we find comfort during this time of sorrow. Our relationship with Him is where we find a peace that surpasses all understanding. Psalm 37:39 says, “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, He is their strength in time of trouble.” Bury yourselves in God’s Word where He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us.
Andree was a rock in the Ziehmer home. I know my friends that the depths of your pain are nearly beyond expression, but I encourage you to cast your cares on God, for He cares for you. He loves you.
When God called Moses home, leaving Joshua to take the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua did not think he could go on. He had depended on Moses. But in his sorrow, confusion and doubt, God came to Him with these mighty, but comforting words that I commend to you today. In Joshua 1:8-9, God says,” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I hope, in the few short moments I’ve had with you this morning, that I have at least given you a glimpse of what God did in the life of Andree Ziehmer, loving wife, devoted mother, and a follower of Jesus Christ, whom she so faithfully served. As I close, I rely once again on the Word of God to help convey all the admirable qualities Andree exhibited. It comes from the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 31, beginning with verse 10.
(After reading that passage, I offered the following prayer:)
Our mighty and holy God, we humbly approach they throne of grace, praising you for your omniscience and omnipresence, and most of all your love.
We praise you Father, acknowledging that you are sovereign King and Creator of all. That your majestic hand is large enough to hold the universe, yet small enough to heal any broken heart.
And though are hearts are broken today Father over the loss of Andree, we take comfort in knowing that she placed her trust in Your Son, King Jesus, and stand on the promise of your Word Father, that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We thank you for Andree’s life and the many blessings you bestowed through her commitment to You.
Oh God, we ask now that your bountiful love be poured out on Carl and the Ziehmer family. May they feel the warmth and comfort that only a great and mighty God like you can provide. Meet their needs Father in the coming days and may they seek your face in all of their decisions.
Thank you Father for the privilege of gathering here today and I pray Lord that you have been honored and glorified in every thing in this service. I ask your blessings upon this church, all those in attendance today, this community, our state and our nation.
And most of all Father, I thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. And it is in His blessed name I pray, Amen.