A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
After watching the burial services for Queen Elizabeth II, my 90-year-old younger sister Joanna said wistfully, “I wish I had a crown to lay at Jesus’ feet.”
Joanna had read a poignant statement by Queen Elizabeth: “I wish I could live until Jesus comes, so I could lay my crown at His feet.”
In some sense, she did lay her imperial crown, studded with priceless jewels, at the foot of Jesus. After she died, the imperial crown adorned her casket through the days of mourning. But before her interment, it was removed from the casket and laid on the high alter of St. George’s chapel before a golden cross. Though she ruled over a great empire, she bowed in humble surrender at the feet of King Jesus and her crown was put at His feet.
Revelation 4:10,11 describes that act of worship:
The twenty-four elders fall down and worship the One who lives forever and ever.
And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,
“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for You created everything, and it is for Your pleasure
that they exist and were created.”
“I wish I had a crown to lay at Jesus’ feet,” dear Joanna had said so wistfully. I hurried to remind her that she does have a crown awaiting her, several crowns, in fact, that she can lay with delight at her Savior’s feet. She just needed a reminder of them.
In II Timothy 4:8, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.” Joanna has looked forward to Jesus’ return all the years of her long and faithful life. So she’ll have the crown of righteousness to put at Jesus’ feet. And yes, she is righteous, not because she’s always done everything right, but because Christ gave her His righteousness,
James 1:12 speaks of another crown: “God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” Your crown, beautiful beyond description, dear Joanna, awaits you, His faithful, loving servant.
One more crown I reminded her of: First Peter 5:4,5 tells of a crown God will give especially to those who served Him well in ministry, which Joanna and her husband Bill certainly did through the long years: “Not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” That crown, dear Joanna, is far more beautiful than the imperial crown of the United Kingdom. Its jewels will darken, its gold tarnish. But the crown of glory that awaits you will never dim. Nor does it depend on an accident of birth, whether you were born into a royal family or not. You will receive it because of Christ’s never-ending grace and love.
The events we watched on television of Queen Elizabeth’s death were an eloquent reminder to me that someday I too will finish the course of my life, and I will stand before the Lord Jesus. May I—and you—so live that we will have a crown to lay at His dear feet.