More Than A Pack Of Cigarettes
Countless folks have already been touched by her story. I’m praying that you might become another soul on that list. I am hoping to pay tribute to the life of Sharon Horne. A lady who fought a long, courageous battle with cancer. She requested I preach her funeral back in September 2014 at St. George Indian Field United Methodist Camp Meeting. I told her the only thing that could stop me was God calling me eternally home first.
Years ago, my dad was her Pastor. She literally watched me grow up as a child. Later I would become her pastor as she made her way to the first church I started in St. George. Then in February 2015, we would once again unite as I found my way by her dying bedside.
I assured Sharon we would walk together through this valley called death. She assured me that she had made peace with God and was not afraid to face death head on. She struggled way more with giving up her independence and leaving behind so many she loved.
Her journey before cancer was not easy. She was no stranger to heartache, struggles, pain and many days of depression. Yet the word quit was never in her vocabulary, even up to her dying day. She certainly looked forward to transitioning to a place where “there will be no more pain, sorrow or heartache. For the old order of things will have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Sharon was a courageous person and a “tell you as she saw it” soul. Her heart was full of God’s grace of which she gratefully embraced herself. She knew apart from God’s grace and her faith in Jesus Christ alone she had no hope, but with Him a brighter tomorrow did await.
Very shortly after the doctor said, “Sharon you have cancer”, God’s peace swept over her and she learned to cling to her faith like never before. I said, “Sharon, when it’s all you have left it means more than ever, doesn’t it?” She said, “You better believe it.”
Cancer began to speak loudly through her increased pains and limitations that she was dying. Sharon had an increased desire to allow God to use her story to touch others. One Easter Sunday at Refuge Church in front of many she shared her heartfelt testimony. After just a few days of her message being posted online, Sharon’s testimony was listened to by a few thousand.
When I told Sharon we even created a video clip of her speaking she was all smiles. She said, “I’m famous. I’m famous.” She was tickled to death that God was using the toughest, most challenging time of her life to draw people unto Himself.
She and I had a very special relationship. We always knew God had connected our paths for reasons even beyond our comprehension. Sharon was the only person ever that compelled this Pastor to buy a pack of cigarettes.
A few months before her eternal transition, I was about to leave her house. I asked, “Sharon, is there anything else I could possibly do for you my friend before I leave?” She laughed and said, “Yes, go buy me a pack of cigarettes.” I said, “Yeah, right.” And I made my way back towards Walterboro.
But before I even got out of St. George, I stopped at the nearest gas station. At 40 years of age, I bought my first ever pack of cigarrettes. I was praying hard my mom wasn’t shopping that day. As I came back to her house to give her the cigarettes, I’ll never forget her response.
Sharon looked at me with tears rolling down her face. Hugged my neck tighter than ever and said. “Preacher, these cigarettes mean as much as any prayer you’ve ever uttered for me.” I ask, “Why?” She said, “Because now I know that your love for me has no bounds.” Those words have stuck with me ever since.
I told her, “God doesn’t look at the cigarette in your hand. He looks much deeper than that. He looks straight to your heart.” I know many might not agree with what I did, but I felt God’s approval and that was all that mattered.
Sharon Horne taught us all so much even through great suffering and adversity. She taught us how to love unconditionally. She taught us how to fight even when you don’t feel like it. She taught us how to stare death in the face with great hope knowing that in the end Jesus will save the day.
Sharon will be deeply missed. But there is no doubt in my mind where she now resides. Where she is now, there is no longer need for anti-anxiety pills, pain meds, or even a cigarette. She is now reunited with other believers who’ve gone on before her. Sharon is now smiling ear to ear, walking around with no limiations and praising God for His amazing grace that saved a wretch like her. For once she was lost and suffering. Now she is safe, sound and healthy forevermore.