A few weeks before the new year began, I chose my “word” for 2014… Faith! (Click HERE to read all about it!) I chose it with such great expectations! I felt that God was going to increase my faith, and that through this faith He would show me mountain-moving miracles!
I was anxious… excited… and a bit scared.
But I never dreamed that just three weeks into this year, my faith would be rattled to the core!
I never dreamed that in just three weeks I would have two very dear people both lose their battles with lung cancer.
I expected miracles! I expected healing!
I prayed scripture, believed without doubting, cried out to God, begged, pleaded….
But after two visitations, two funerals and too many tears shed, I felt let down! I felt disappointed by God! I was saddened… frustrated!
So for several days, I really wrestled with God.
Why, God? Why?
On January 22, 2014, one of the dearest women I have ever had the privilege of knowing gained her ultimate victory as she entered her eternal home with Jesus. Kristen Sauder was the real deal! She loved Jesus with all of her heart; He was her passion! Her mission and ministry were to help others seek and be fulfilled within a deep, personal relationship with the Almighty God! She was loved and admired by many, and her one, “ordinary” life has affected an entire community and beyond! She was a prayer warrior! Her prayers have greatly affected both myself and my family… her sweet, interceding words helped to change my life! She inspired me to want to love Jesus more!
So why would God choose to take her Home now? She was only 45 years old! Her oldest daughter will be walking down the aisle this June. She left behind an adoring husband, a son in college and two precious daughters still in high school. Why God?
I have to admit… this one just did not make sense!
Things began to change for me the day I attended her funeral. The words used to describe Kristen were beautiful, and everything we all knew to be true! There were stories… tears… and even some laughter. There were some very touching moments, but the most amazing part was the worship that followed. My sister and I were running a little late (no comment as to who that would be attributed to…), so we were unable to sit in the seats saved for us down front. Instead, we slipped in quietly and sat in the back. I think it was a God thing as I needed to see what would transpire from the viewpoint of the back of the building! After the speakers finished their tributes, the worship songs began; the music was loud… powerful! I saw a sanctuary full of men and women standing together, hands lifted high, with tears streaming down their faces… all singing praises to the God of the universe! It may have been the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed! My tears flowed… even quiet sobs at times as I was overcome by the presence of God and the beauty that filled that building. (*Note to self: invest in some good water-proof mascara!)
Let me remind you… THIS WAS A FUNERAL!!!
And then my heart ached… not just for the family, but for those who have no hope… for those who do not know Jesus.
Only Christians can come together in the midst of such mourning and sadness and become so awestruck and aware of who God is that they praise and worship Him with such reverence and joy. When we, as a human creation of the Almighty, understand just an inkling of who Jesus is… when we reach out and touch just the hem of His garment… we are overcome!
(the above video is not from her funeral, but it is one of the songs we sang during it)
As we continued to sing, I became more and more sorrowful for those who do not know Him. Oh, how truly mournful those funeral services are.
So while I still do not understand the reason that God chose to take such a wonderful person so early in her earthly lifetime, I am reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. Each day we are seeing how much her life has impacted the community and beyond. We are learning that through her death, people across this nation are hearing about how Kristen lived, and how she died: humbly loving and surrendering to Jesus. They are reading about her courageous fight with cancer, how despite her struggle she continued to use her words and blog as a way to encourage others. People are being impacted and forever changed!
“If you measure a life by longevity, Kristen lived half a life. If you measure a life by influence, then Kristen lived long and well.” –Bob Russell
As I stated in my first post of the new year, it only takes “ONE” person to make a difference. Never underestimate the power God has to use one individual… to use me… or to use you!!!
On my last blog post, Kristen chose the word “Victory” for 2014; she also wrote about this word on her blog. Oh, sweet Kristen… you have obtained the ultimate victory!
“O sing to the Lord a new song for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.” (Psalm 98:1)
What about you?
Where is your hope?
Are you willing to let God use you to impact others?
There is such beauty in the lives of those who say “Yes” to Him!
May you find the beauty in today,
“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥
Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):
407. Potty Training Successes!
415. Puzzle pieces coming together!
421. Softening Hearts!