A young woman died in our community last week. I didn't know her personally, but knew her and her family in the way that small town people all "know" eachother. She was 41, a wife, a mother of three - two of whom are in our kids' classes. She was a preschool teacher, a beloved friend, a woman of God. She was involved in her church - not just an attender, but she went to bible studies and womens' retreats. And she had a beautiful voice.
Last I heard was that they didn't know the reason for sure, and maybe never will. It may have been a heart attack, but they don't know. She didn't have any health problems that anyone was aware of. One thing they do know is that it was sudden and unexpected and heartbreaking.
As you can imagine, this has me thinking. A lot. The description of her life is so similar to mine, it's scary. I'm not so much scared for myself and wondering if this could or would happen to me. It's just scary that there are no guarantees. I used to think that faith in God was a type of guarantee that nothing really bad would happen in my life. Sure, bad things happen to everyone. Even believers. But a tragedy of this magnitude couldn't possibly slip through God's loving, protective hands.....could it?
Six years ago, I would have said no way. Three years ago Vince may have said no way as well. But life experience tells us differently now. And so does the bible. But for most of my life I just preferred to ignore those parts that talked about suffering. They wouldn't apply to me in my lifetime - not on that level anyway. And I have a confession to make...I also used to think that if something so tragic happened to someone, there was an underlying reason for it. They weren't a christian? Well, that's a no-brainer. But if they were? That's a little more difficult to understand and accept. But there still must have been a reason. Somehow they were not fully committed to God, their faith was not where it should be, and that is how this tragedy was able to slip into their lives.
I know that sounds judgemental of me, and to some extent it was. But thinking this way was not so much me standing there pointing fingers, rather it was me curling up under a blanket. Insulating myself from the possibility that it could happen to me. Other people's children die, not mine. People with less faith have spouses that leave them, either by choice or by death, but not me. If I do everything right in God's eyes, if I believe enough, pray enough, and love enough, then God will protect me from that type of suffering and loss.
I know different now. And this song says it more perfectly than I ever could. God doesn't promise us a life protected from suffering, He promises to be there. How could He be our Healer if there was nothing to heal? How could He be our Redeemer, if there was nothing to redeem? How could He be our Prince of Peace, if we never experienced chaos? And how could He be our Comforter if we did not endure suffering?
And how can we be there...truly be there for others if we have not been there ourselves?
Perhaps there is a purpose in all things. Perhaps not. But I have learned this...God brings purpose to all situations. He takes what the enemy means for evil, and draws good from it. Not just good...but life. I have found that through suffering I have grown in ways that I otherwise would not.
There. Now that I've written all that, I can wrap it up with Romans 8:28 and click "publish".
Except, that's not what I sat down to write about.
What really drew me here was fear. I'm scared. Not scared of dying, but scared of failing. Failing my kids, failing my family and friends, failing God with my life. You should hear all the things everyone is saying about this woman who died...what a wonderful mother she was, a devoted wife, a woman of God. She touched so many lives and made such an incredible impact.
And it makes me wonder...am I making the impact that I so desperately long to? Am I a blessing to my kids? Do I care enough about others? Am I the loving wife that I long to be? Do I truly have a spirit of love and grace that blesses others? Do you see Jesus in me?
What will people say about me when I am gone? Are they true about me now?
Legacy by Nichole Nordman
I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much
I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...