7:10 AM The Celebration Service yesterday on campus affected me deeply. I took away several things:
1) I am infinitely more fragile and helpless than even I think I am sometimes. As I watched the video of Becky’s life, I was a basket case. I longed to see her again in this life, to have her slip into my arms for a few minutes in one last embrace. But that was denied. My lover was dead. And I grieved.
2) Grieving is okay. Super-okay. When Moses died, the Israelites grieved for 30 days. When Stephen was martyred, “devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him.” It is right and proper that we should grieve, as long as we recognize that, since life is Christ, death is ultimately nothing but gain.
3) Express your grief in full. I’m not in the least ashamed of my tears, because it is the Lord Himself who called me to experience the loss of Becky Lynn. Groaning, simply because its human, makes me a real man.
4) Focus on the future. Bec and I are separated only for a short while. All He is asking of me just now is the willingness to accept the relatively small and temporal discipline of loneliness.
5) Don’t forget the present. You heard it said over and over again yesterday: Becky’s commitment to obedience was unconditional. She welcomed life with both hands, renounced all rights for His sake, and found her significance in serving Him by serving others. It seemed that the harder the obstacles, the greater her determination to be a vessel used of Him. Christ’s own radical diminishments — including His suffering and death — accomplished great things, including our eternal salvation. What that means is that nothing — absolutely nothing — is useless in the down-to-earth lifestyle to which Christianity calls each one of us.
6) Rejoice! “I will extol the Lord at all times,” wrote the Psalmist. “His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord. Let the afflicted hear and rejoice” (Psalm 34). Adds Paul (Rom. 5:3-5): “We can be full of joy here and now, even in our trials and troubles. These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.” Loss carries with it a particular kind of blessing. Becky’s death is what Lewis might have called a severe mercy. It means to strengthen and purify. So rejoice!
7) Love God first. Becky found her fulfillment and joy in Christ, not in her marriage. If we love our spouses or families more than we love God, we are guilty of idolatry. God’s pleasure is in those who fear Him. Is He not my true Love? If so, He will see that I make it through this lonesome valley. “The Lord gives a new heart to the humble” (Psalm 147:6). “All things that happen to us fit into a pattern for good” (Rom. 8:28). When a man or a woman, a boy or girl, accepts loss for Christ’s sake, there are cosmic ramifications if they receive it by faith. Put Him first. Continually give Him your thoughts and affections.
8) Finally, prioritize the kingdom. (You knew this was coming, didn’t you?) Those who place self over Savior will never be satisfied. What made Becky a spiritual parent to so many was her devotion to Christ and to His purposes in this world. I believe we all are meant to reproduce, to be spiritual fathers and mothers.
This privilege is not beyond any of us who will give ourselves wholly to God.
In conclusion, Becky’s example has changed my response to life. I am called close to the side of Jesus and given a small assignment: receive His grace with thanksgiving and then dispense it to others. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16-17). Eugene Peterson puts it like this: “Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.” That’s it. Pour yourself out for others. Thank the Lord for whatever affiliation He has given you. Offer it up to Him for service. Offer it up! It is wonderfully comforting to be absolutely sure that He will use it to accomplish His will. Move with flint-like resolution toward the cross, with all its humiliations and disappointments. Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Have you really given me the gift of singleness? Then I’ll use it for You, Lord. Here it is. Please take it. I love you. Dave