Monday, August 2, 2010

Death & Life

I didn't know her personally, but I do remember seeing her sit beside her mom in church about three weeks ago. A woman with long, blond flowing hair, a radiant smile, and fit as can be. She and her mom, Inger could almost pass as sisters. Her name was Allisyn. She was only a year younger than I and died while doing what she loved, base jumping.

Just a few days after the news, I saw her dad, Ralph in church. Both of his hands were outstretched. While standing over six feet tall, he worshipped to the song of "Amazing Grace" Like the blooming cacti in the desert, Ralph stood strong and tall, vibrant as ever. This in spite of such fiery heat. One might ask, 'Why? How can he do that?"

After hugging his wife, Inger, she said to me with tears in her eyes, "When I heard the song, 'Oh, how He loves us' I just wished those kids were here to experience this." She, as her husband, Ralph, clings to that priceless truth. They both know God loves them. Although they grieve the loss of their sweet Allisyn, they also celebrate her life. A life that was undoubtedly lived out with great passion and zest. I am told she knew God. It is evident from the stories and photos shared, that she relentlessly and fearlessly pursued her dreams. She was not afraid to live. She was not afraid to die. Thus, she inspired many.

This past Sunday, we had a guest speaker. Larry, one of the missionaries we support in Ecuador, explained that if we focus on the here and now, we can miss eternity. There are days he and his wife, Susan would like to cash it in and just come home to the States, but they don't. Again, one might question, "Why not?" Their response? They know in their hearts that what they are doing is making a difference for eternity. They may or may not see the fruit of their labor, but they trust God to do something with it. They are utterly convinced of a divine purpose.

I am humbled and inspired by all of these people. I do not have such faith made of steel. Like many, I like to see and know something is working and how. I am reminded of a poem by Alexander Pope. It is entitled, "The Dying Christian To His Soul"

Vital spark of heav’nly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heav’n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?

When we each meet that inevitable appointment with death, may it be only after we have lived so passionately, doing that it is, which we were divinely called and gifted to do in the first place. May our own deaths and lives, inspire others to reach for their dreams and LIVE! Until then, may our faith be strengthened as we consider both death and life.

1 comment:

  1. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

    Excellent post Leigh...let's live as eternity matters...because it does!