The dirty dishes in the sink have finally been put away. The light in the kitchen is still on. The sounds of Cutthroat Kitchen are on in the background. And the residue from frying a little piece of steak is still stuck to my George Foreman grill. And it will sit there just a little longer as I spend a few moments in prayer as I write this post and pray for the family of dear Kara Tippetts.
Kara and I never met, yet I have felt our lives linked ever since I first read her blog Mundane Faithfulness. Kara was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and today she finally was welcomed into the arms of her dear Lord and Savior. Kara leaves behind her beloved husband Jason and their four children. Throughout her journey, Kara was so full of grace, authenticity, vulnerability and pure faith in God. (Her words continually reminded me of several dear friends of mine who are currently battling cancer and whose words speak the power of community and God's love for all of us!)
Earlier this evening, I popped onto Twitter and saw a Tweet that shared that Kara had entered into her Lord's arms today. As I read that Tweet, I found myself thinking about the chain links to a fence and how those links connect together to make the fence complete. At the churches I have served, whenever we have had a special milestone blessing (3rd graders receiving their Bible etc), I have tried to have the congregation stand and place their hand on the person next to them or in front of them to link back to the ones being blessed at the front of the congregation. My favorite piece is being at the advantage of seeing everyone linked together. It is a powerful witness...to look into each face and know that no matter what we are linked together as brothers and sisters in Christ. And that is what I am reminded of today as we know that Kara heard the words "well done good and faithful servant."
As God's beloved children, we are all linked together even though we may have never met in person. I think of how many times in this life I have been blessed by reading someone's words or by talking to someone I have never talked to before. God has a way of linking us together in ways and places that we never imagined which is why we grieve those that we have never met yet feel like we have known forever.
Knowing that we are all links to the fence, my heart still breaks for Kara's family and friends. How do you say goodbye to a dear friend or family member especially when it doesn't seem fair and seems far to soon? How do you share how someone has blessed your life in more ways than you ever imagined?
What I do know is that it is not easy to say goodbye. Throughout my thirty six years on this earth, I have had to say goodbye to my maternal grandparents. I have said goodbye to one of my favorite high school teachers who saw gifts in me before I saw them in myself. I have said goodbye with friends as they have said goodbye to children they never got to even hold. Each of these goodbyes has not been easy, but the hardest for me was my high school best friend Mandy.
Mandy and I were inseperable growing up. She was just a few years older than me but had a kidney transplant which held her back in school. So we ended up in the same grade. As we graduated, we both went our seperate ways which eventually led me to seminary. Every one in awhile my phone would ring and Mandy would be on the other end. We would laugh like old times. During one of her calls, she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. I was honored that she asked and flew home from seminary to be a part of her special day. I will never forget that day...she was so happy! Not long after that wedding, a year or so, I got a phone call from Mandy's mom letting me know that she had passed away. Sadly we had lost touch as our lives went in different directions, but my heart was still breaking. Mandy was my first "best friend." I remember standing in the church office, tears streaming down my face as I listened to that voicemail.
Saying goodbye is indeed a part of life, but it is still so hard. There are days I wish I could shield us from the hurt but then I am reminded of the words we hear Jesus say "I will never leave you or forsake you." Jesus is with us through it all. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried, but then, on the third day, Jesus rose. HOPE AND RESURRECTION! That is what it is all about. I am reminded of these words from one of my favorite Psalms. "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning."--Psalm 30:5
The weeping is fresh tonight especially for those who love Kara so much and so deeply, yet God promises that joy will come with the morning. And knowing that joy will come with the morning, I am reminded of the quote on Kara's website from our dear Martin Luther: "What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?" So, honoring this beautiful soul and remembering how we are linked together like chain links to a fence, I ask you, my dear readers and friends, how will we live our days even in the ugliest darkest spaces? And what will YOU do in the mundane days of faithfulness?