Lord Jesus, I’ve been thinking so much lately about how “one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42) and how my relationship with You really is truly the number one priority in my life, and how a few weeks ago I even dwelt on the brevity of life … And now I just heard of my sweet friend Karlee’s sudden homecoming to you.
Jesus: she died. Apparently she said “my head hurts” and then just collapsed while talking with a friend in the lobby at her church and was unrevivable. She wasn’t even sick or anything! Oh, Lord… she was my age! She has a son the same age as my Abby, a daughter a couple years younger, and a stepdaughter just finished with high school! I cannot imagine how devastated her kids must be feeling right now. Oh, Lord… and her husband…
When I met Karlee a few years ago– when Abby and her son were in preschool together– she was a brand-new Christian, completely enamored with You, totally passionate about telling others about her newfound faith, always offering to pray and asking for prayer herself. She was such a source of joy and life. It is hard to believe she’s gone.
Thank you that she is with You. Thank you that she knew You– and that she knew that her relationship with You was the most important thing in her life. Even above her incalculable love for her children and her husband. Even above how much she cared about helping out and serving and loving the youth group at her church. Even more than she cared about the education of her kids who she chose to homeschool a couple years ago.
She knew YOU were IT. YOU are the real thing. YOU are the One who rescued her from her life before. You are the One who made her into a new person.
I never knew “the old Karlee”– I only ever had the pleasure of interacting with “the new creation Karlee”: the friendly, encouraging, bubbling with joy, hopelessly devoted to Jesus, lover of the world. She was, as long as I knew her, one of the nicest, always positive, always full-of-hope women I knew.
And her passing makes me ponder a few things. Most importantly, I wonder: what on earth would my children and my husband do if I just dropped dead? Have I done all I can to prepare them for the future? Have I pointed the way to You often enough that they would truly turn to, trust, and allow themselves to be comforted by You? Have I truly been engaged and present in my moments with them? Do they feel loved and valued and like the beautiful treasures that they are? I’m not worried about myself or my own soul as I face the possibility that I could pass away at any moment– I eagerly look forward to going to “Aslan’s country“! I know I will be fine– more fine than I’ve ever even imagined.
So I am not concerned about my own death for my sake– it’s the rest of that world I’m worried about.
And yet… when I stop and think about it… I do know this: You, Lord, will be here on this earth and in the lives of my husband and my children with or without me. It is YOU that is the One who has the power to change their hearts, to bring true and lasting comfort, and to bring the unexplainable “peace that passes understanding” that is described in Your Word (Philippians 4:7). For me to think that it is MY job to prepare the souls of my children or my husband for life without me is– dare I say?– an overinflated sense of responsibility on my part? Yes, of course I am called and have been commissioned by You to be a good steward of these relationships in my life and the resources in my life. Obviously. But… stewardship is very different than ownership. Stewardship, by its very definition, acknowledges that someone else is the owner. Stewardship is another word for “caretaker” or “overseer.” Like a property manager. So, with that in mind, Lord help me to see my husband and my children in that less-stressed-out, less “it’s all up to me” view.
May I take advantage of my time with them and use that time wisely. May I pounce on the teachable moments when they arise; may I utilize windows of free time for prayer; may I look in their eyes and engage with them– via conversation, help with homework, or playing Uno– when I have the opportunity to do so. May I be led by You in my moments. May I be ever leaning into You, ever in love with You, and ever following You. I truly do want to be the Kristi You want me to be. As I reflected with the kids this morning about what each of our names mean, I was reminded that my name is a derivative of the word “Christian.” Which means my very name identifies me as a “follower of Christ.” I praise You for that, Jesus! I praise You that it’s not all up to me. I praise You that I am not called to blaze ahead of You and figure out this life on my own.
My parents named me at birth without even thinking of what it meant– and yet it is truer than true: I am called to follow You, Jesus. What relief that brings me! Yes, I’m still working out the details regarding what that looks like– I realize following You doesn’t mean sitting around on my lazy butt and waiting for You to do all the hard work in my life. I know that You have given me a brain and given me gifts and talents and abilities that You intend for me to use. I know that I am sometimes called to step forward in faith, trusting that it really is You who is leading me a particular way. You are invisible, Lord, and sometimes it’s hard to know which way You want me to go.
But You are the realest thing in my life, Lord.
So… as I sit here and ponder my friend’s sudden passing… and as I pray for her family… I am also looking at my own mortality square in the face.
And, Jesus: I trust You.
I trust You for my friend’s soul and for Your ability to swoop in and comfort and lead and provide for her aching family. And I also trust You for me and for my soul and for the lives and souls of my husband and children.
“All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” ~Isaiah 54:13
You are the One we need. Each of us. Please take all the prayers I’ve ever prayed and will pray in the future… and spread them out across eternity. You are not bound by time, Lord. And You are also not limited by me. Your love and care and provision for us is always at max capacity.
I can trust and depend on You.
So even if I do happen to leave this world unexpectedly or soon, like my friend Karlee just did, I thank You that You will be just as big and just as loving and just as capable and caring and tender-hearted and full of grace and wisdom and hope and joy… even then.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” ~1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
* * *
What about you?
Do you ever feel afraid of death–for the sake of the ones you would be leaving behind? What brings you hope or comfort when you are grieving?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.