For the last five months a dear sister-friend of mine battled a viscous form of leukemia. She spent the vast majority of those days in hospital rooms being poked and prodded by nurses. And by God’s grace, I had the privilege of witnessing her faithful fight to the end. She crossed over to be with Jesus last weekend, leaving behind her husband, her two young kids, her extended family, and many friends.
Today her family will receive friends and tomorrow those who loved her will celebrate her life, cry for the gaps her death will leave, and stir up hope and joy that she is with her Lord, one day to be seen again.
For now I process. I’m a writer. It’s what I do.
Her story is not mine to tell. So I won’t give you details of her powerfully influential life. But maybe just maybe the stuff God is stirring in me as a result of her passing will encourage or inspire or challenge you. So. I write.
I’ve walked through the valley of death before — the most difficult being my dad dying when I was 19. But every death experience presses uniquely on the people affected. I don’t claim any understanding of what it’s like to lose a child or to lose a spouse or to lose a sibling. Or what her sweet family is specifically feeling during these dark days. My prayers continue and continue for each of them. I’m simply sharing what God is doing in me in this specific loss of this specific friend. No more. No less.
- Life is short. I know we don’t like to think about the brevity of life. But wow. This life is a breath. Five months ago she would have never ever guessed that this would be what February 2015 would hold. We only have a few minutes on this planet. And her passing has reminded me afresh not to waste the time I’ve been given. Not to waste the health I’ve been given. Not to waste the relationships and gifts I’ve been given.
- Stop with the excuses. There are a few things that God has placed in me to do or create. And I know that I know that I have at times made excuses in my not following through. Netflix does that to me. True, God’s timing is perfect. True, He is sovereign. But while this urgency is burning in me, I’m crushing the excuses and simply saying, “God, use me however You will. No excuses. I’m Yours.”
- This world is not our home. This world is broken. It’s sick. It’s diseased. It’s longing for full redemption. Our hope is not found on this earth. Our hope is found in our Maker. In Christ, we’re sojourners here. When we set our desires solely on temporal things, we will live a disappointed existence. But when we set our hearts and our minds on eternal things, hope rises. Endurance wells up. Soul victory comes.
My friend is in the “far better” place, as Paul says in Philippians. (Philippians 1:21-23) She is. Just as that person you love who died in Christ is in the “far better” place. So until we see them again, let’s run this faith race with endurance. Let’s love hard and live well. Let’s not forget why we’re here.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
In honor of Bethanne Jennings — You fought the good fight. You finished the race. Well done, good and faithful servant of Jesus.