In Memory of Queen Elizabeth II
This week marks the end of a special era in human history. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has passed from this life, and gone to be with her Lord and Savior forever. Considering that there are photos and videos of her still fulfilling her duties and graciously receiving Britain’s new Prime Minister a mere two days before her passing, we can give thanks to God for this special woman as she finally enters her rest.
There is nobody like her. I wonder if anyone will emerge from the current era to be role model for the younger set like Queen Elizabeth has been to so many us who have come before? She ruled for 70 years, meaning that for almost everyone alive today she has always been the queen of England. Her life marked an entire era of time that perhaps someday will be referred to as the second Elizabethan age. As the rest of the world went through its many kings, presidents, prime ministers, and dictators, Queen Elizabeth lived and served gracefully, bringing a steadiness and sense of timelessness to the world. Her life was so special, and there is so much we can learn from her example.
Of course, she was born into royalty as the granddaughter of the king, and therefore had a rather unusual perspective on life for her whole life. When Elizabeth was just 10 years old, her grandfather died and her uncle soon abdicated his role as king, leaving Elizabeth the heir to the throne. At the tender age of 25, an age when so many of us are still trying to figure out who we are and what we ought to be doing, her father died and she became the queen of a vast number of the world’s people. The rest of the world joined in the excitement. My mother, who was 10 in 1952, remembers her whole class gathering at the home of the one family in town who had a television set to watch the coronation of the young new queen. It was an exciting and hopeful event.
There are some pretty amazing things that came with her unique position. She never had to have a driver’s license or a passport, as all of those things were issued to everyone else in her own name! Her image has been on all the coinage and currency, postage stamps, and legal documents for Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations around the globe for the better part of a century. She met most of the world’s leaders throughout her long reign, and was given beautiful gifts of honor and respect by a great number of them. She traveled the world and was celebrated by gatherings of thousands everywhere she went. She lived in fabulous palaces and had beautiful clothes and jewels, and people to attend to her every need. She attended balls and galas, and really lived all of the fairy tale ideals.
Though she was surrounded by opulence and plenty all her life, she was not ruined by them. People were continually shocked by what a normal woman she was. She loved her husband and children, her parents and sister, her dogs and horses. She had a wonderfully regular daily routine that she maintained wherever she happened to be in the world. She was kind and gracious and respectful to all, whether family, stranger, servant, or world leader. There is a story of an encounter with two American tourists who did not realize who she was, and she just played along and even took a photo for them. Her bodyguard laughed, wondering if anyone would ever tell those two who they had been speaking with that day.
She deeply loved her God and country. At a young age she committed herself to the service of both, famously saying on her 21st birthday, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” Though many under her dominion practiced other faiths, she boldly and lovingly represented the goodness and majesty of Christ, and always referred to Him as her Lord. Though many in her care had widely differing political opinions from one another, she loved and hoped for all of her subjects, living above and beyond politics. She knew exactly who she was and exactly Who and what she represented, and took great care never to do anything that did not represent God and country rightly.
Certainly not every person born or married into human royalty has viewed the position and privilege in quite the same way that Queen Elizabeth did. So many have wasted and squandered and misused their influence. There is much in the written record about her, documenting that even at a very early age she had a deep understanding of what it meant to be the child of a king. Friends and contemporaries testify that she was always both grateful and dutiful. She was a person like all the rest of us, and must have had off days, but we never saw them. She kept her frustrations to herself. There were no bitter and weeping interviews when she felt she just couldn’t take it anymore. There were no sensational books or exposés about her secret and awful hidden vices. For nine decades, this lovely woman lived her life of service to God and others. She never wavered, she never complained, and she never quit. Right up to the end she was the steady and responsible queen that her people and the rest of the world could count on to do what was right.
It is such a lovely thought to picture such a graceful and dedicated queen finally entering into the courts of the King of all Kings. May her memory be a blessing for many generations to come.
What can we learn from such a life well-lived? None of us are likely to ever know the kind of broad power and significance that she had by virtue of her office and birth, but each of us has our own sphere of influence in this life. We have the opportunity to choose to live a life of unfailing service and encouragement.
There is something wired deep inside every person that longs for a good person to rule. We seem intuitively to know that things were supposed to be a certain way, and they are not. We know that everything about illness and death feels wrong. We know that injustice and poverty and misuse of power are wrong, and should not exist. We know that the weak and vulnerable should be loved and cared for by those who are stronger. We know that families should be healthy, not broken. There is something in every heart that yearns for true justice and peace, and wisdom and plenty for all. Our hearts are longing for the very one who made and sustains us - the Lord Jesus Christ.
Elizabeth exemplified a true servant of this good King. She believed that her honor came only from Him, and always sought to point back to Him. She knew that He was the giver of life, and the One from Whom all blessings flow. On His behalf, she strove to rule with wisdom, grace, and justice, and always had a hopeful and encouraging outlook for her people - the people she knew He loved so much. She stood for righteousness and peace, and against division and unbelief. She determined to always remind her people of who they were, and of what they could be with a little faith and diligence.
I am grateful to have witnessed someone stand steadfast and faithful for the entire fifty years of my life and beyond. We are blessed to have had such an example of a strong and committed leader, who spent a long lifetime in joyful service as a child of the King. What a difference it could make if many of us determined to serve God and the people in our lives with such unfailing hope and faithfulness.
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Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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