Friday, February 27, 2015

It Is Well

When I think of you, I remember a younger me. 

I remember many times when we sat with Marie and our friends, Bibles open and talking about it.  In the early days, Molly and I perfected the art of avoiding eye contact with Marie so we didn't have to share first.  The awkwardness between new people faded over the years to where it would be hard to believe that we didn't always share secrets and struggles and the things that good friends do. We all enjoyed each other so well.  You always spoke straight from the heart and got straight to the point with your wondering and sharing and confronting.  Wise woman.  I learned about praying out loud, during those years, with you and with our friends. 

I remember squeezing into Marie's Toyota Paseo, so many different times.  Mostly, I remember there was enough room for everyone as we drove home; but occasionally, we packed in like sardines—like the time we kidnapped Molly for her birthday.  I think you were on crutches and got to sit up front because of your injured leg.  We went back to Marie’s place, the one with the breakfast nook, for dinner.  Afterwards, I remember us cheering with Deborah during Return from Snowy River,  "Go Jim go!"  We cheered for the dashing hero on his black stallion.
There were other movies too, like The Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape, during sleepovers.  There were also many musicals and plays at Walnut and Finneytown.  On our way to watch Ellen in Godspell, I remember talking about whether the note I received from Will during study hall meant anything; in it he had drawn my profile and written about "the North girl."
What fun times those were!

I went looking for a particular photo of our small group last week.  I never found it.  But Molly did!

I found a photo from Resident Camp, instead.  I remember eating with your campers while I served on Girls Crew.  You were such a wonderful counselor.

I remember having gym class together too.  I was so relieved to know someone else that first day.  I think it must have been with Mr. Christoph, because I remember being on mats tumbling and talking with you, Lindsay, and Tiphanie.  If I am remembering correctly, I think we spent the beginning of the semester lamenting our lack of volleyball skills.  Very few of us did well on the bumping and setting tests. 

You always seemed so comfortable with who you were.  I think that is pretty rare in a middle school or high school student.  You made me feel like I could be me around you, the me that was still trying to figure out who I really was—even if that meant you were witness to ridiculous dance choreography in the bathroom just down the hall from the lunchroom.  We laughed about it, but I never felt foolish for sharing that piece of me with you. (Though, now, I would like to groan that I ever thought that was remotely cool. Oh well!)

That was a precious gift you gave me then.

I did not know I could really live authentically until years later.  But years later, I do know that is the best way to really live, even if it sometimes feels very risky.  If we are never fully known, we can never be fully loved.  You were known and loved, friend.

It seems such a long time since those days. 

Life seldom brought us together since then. (Those few moments when it did were sweet).  From afar, I loved watching your adventures.  You seemed to have such a “seize the day” way of living.  It took you all over the world.  You found so many kindred spirits, touched so many lives.  I know we are all richer for knowing you.  I am.

Now, you are gone. 

(You, who were always so full of life and laughter and making things beautiful—can it really be?)

It reminds me that this world is broken and of my longing for home.  It makes me long for the day when all will be made right.  In that place, in the presence of Jesus, you are whole again.  Sickness does not have the last word, neither does death.  For that, I am so very thankful.

I remember Marie sharing this passage from 1 Peter about character with me. 

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.   – 1 Peter 3:3-6 

I think it is especially the last line that makes me think of it now. 

“You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 

What a courageous woman you were, my friend.  You faced months of treatment, friends and family beside you, near and far, praying.  You did not give way to fear. 

I want to live like that too! 

These were God’s words to Joshua and the people of Israel as they entered the Promised Land: 

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

The road ahead of Israel was full of promise in the midst of difficulty.  In the midst of all of this, God told them not to fear, he would be right there.  He would not leave of forsake them.  What words of hope!  What words of comfort!  

God goes with us wherever we go. 

You must have taken hold of God’s promises in the midst of such difficulty. 

His promises are the springs of life that keep us going.

I believe that our names tell us something about who we are. 

Your namesake was loyal, determined, strong and brave—like you.  She, too, was no stranger to difficulty. 

You know what?  Her story doesn’t end in death, it ends in life.  It ends with a redeemer. 

So does your story, Ruth.  Because Jesus lives, so will you. 

Because of all this, it is well


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we trust in the promises of God.  May we cling to Jesus as our sure hope in the face of sin and guilt and death.  May we trust that His resurrection life will right all the wrongs and make all things new.  Because of this we can say it is well.


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