What a delightful experience it was to be at a Christian funeral which was ‘weighty, but not heavy’. Along with the sorrow that comes from the death of a loved one, there was joy and hope in great measure.
On Tuesday 9 May 2017, many people, family and friends came from near and far to worship God and give thanks for the life of an ordinary, yet extraordinary, lady. Doris Olyott, or (as many people knew her) Doll, went to be with the Lord, ‘which is far better’, on Wednesday 26 April.
Her husband, Rev. Stuart Olyott, led the service, Matt Francis, pastor at Christ Church Deeside prayed, read the Word and spoke of Doll. Using the chorus, ‘Two little eyes to look to God’, Stuart gave a God-honouring, Christ-centred review of Doll’s life. Her son, Joe, spoke movingly on behalf of the ‘lads’, confirming his mum’s love for her Lord, love for them and love for others.
Pastor Bill Bygroves (Bridge Chapel, Liverpool), who had personal experience of life in the Olyott household, reiterated Doll’s godly character. He spoke about Doll as generous and gracious, before summing her up as a ‘gospel lady’ and lovingly urging any without Christ to seek the Lord.
Doll viewed herself as just ordinary, but what we heard from these speakers showed us how an ordinary life lived in God’s way can become extraordinary.
We heard how, over many years, her extraordinary God had been at work through the ordinary things of life — not least as an ordinary wife supporting her husband’s extraordinary ministry; as an ordinary mum to an extraordinary family; and as an ordinary woman with an extraordinary ministry to other women. How so?
The role of stay-at-home wife and mother is so disrespected and undervalued in society today. However, in God’s hands, a quiet, gentle spirit that wants to serve him in loving obedience can be more effective than the most high-powered executive.
Hard work and an uncomplaining spirit was Doll’s lot, week in week out, yet the words spoken at her funeral service testified to countless lives touched, bodies nourished and standards imbibed in the home, church and wider community.
Her son Joe, in his moving testimony to his mum, quoted verses from Proverbs 31 that illustrated all that had been said, especially verse 29: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all’.
Perhaps the testimony of Doll’s life will yet have an extraordinary effect as a new generation of Christian wives and mothers read of Doll and are encouraged to seek God’s help and strength to live a selfless life, gladly serving a loving Saviour at home, at church and in the community.
It was an extraordinary thanksgiving service with an extraordinary impact. As Stuart and his family left the service, the piano played and the congregation spontaneously sang, ‘To God be the glory, great things he has done’.
Rhys & Jane Morgan