This month marks the 9th anniversary of the death of a friend of mine. She was 24. Her family were missionaries to Mexico and Haiti; a beautiful picture of God’s love. They were hard at work when, one day in 2004, they received word that their daughter had cancer. Within a year she had gone home to be with the Lord. She was an amazing young woman – I hadn’t known her that long, but the love of Jesus radiated from her like a brilliant light shining on a dark night.
I remember visiting her one day at her home. She lay in bed, too weak to sit up. All we could do is talk to her while she listened, and then she would slightly whisper into my mom’s ear. But she was stunning. Through all the pain, tears, and physical hardships, she loved Jesus like no one I’ve ever seen. You could tell just by looking at her laying in her bed. When she died, I cried the entire funeral.
Looking back now, I learned so many things about life just from this one young lady. Death can be a painful instructor, yet one that teaches us lessons we remember throughout our lives. Here are three which stand out to me (I by no means have these perfected, but continue to work on them daily).
1) Life is a Vapor. “You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14 says it perfectly. We don’t know how long we have on earth, which means we need to make our time count. Be a “fragrant aroma” (2 Corinthians 2:15) to the world around you in everything you do, always pointing people to Christ.
2) We Don’t Know Who’s Watching. When this young lady died, I don’t think she knew what an influence her life would have on people. She had no idea that nine years after her death, Beecher, who was just a little kid, would be writing about what an impact she had on him. Her testimony was both lived out and spoken in front of everyone – people all over the world. Who knows how many people were forever changed by just one encounter with her?! We never know who’s watching, and we never know if we’ll see that person again – so make a difference in their life.
3) Our Lives can Create Lasting Repercussions. If you do what God calls you to do, whatever that is (one thing we do all know he’s called us to do is to spread the Gospel and love others), your life will have a lasting impact. Just like Shelby’s. You see, this young lady’s name was Shelby Kennedy. Her life still impacts people. How? Well, in 2009, the first annual nationwide Bible Bee was put on by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation. Thousands of kids participate every year, memorizing thousands of verses, and then compete to win the Bible Bee. It is an incredible event. And it all began because of this one young lady who was pursuing Christ passionately and spreading his love.
You see, our lives go much farther than just our little “circles”. They can create lasting change that impacts countless people for good. But we have to be living intentionally. Follow Christ and do what he commands you to. Serve. Love. Give. Disciple. And if you haven’t been living intentionally, start today. God will redeem the time “the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25), and you can start afresh. Go make your life count – you never know who God will change through you.
Who’s someone in your life that inspires or challenges you to become better? Write them a note today thanking them!
What’s one thing you can begin right now that will have lasting change? Maybe it’s a Bible Study or serving someone, but do it now.