Days before my friend’s untimely death, I strolled around my property with a heavy heart knowing the moment was closing in. I caressed the tiny buds on a fruit tree we’d planted last year, and told my husband, “Becky will never get to do this again.” I burst into tears. Why did cancer have to steal such a precious flower like my sweet friend? She was one of the most giving, Godly souls I’d ever known. If a kind heart could be measured, Becky’s was brimming over.
What made her life so different? And what would I do today if I knew tomorrow was my last? This sobering thought hit hard days later when my dear friend finally lost her battle to pancreatic cancer. Grieving her loss, I began to count the cost: What truly matters this side of eternity? Am I living aimlessly for selfish pursuits or for God and others? Becky was a beaming example of a self sacrificial life lived for Christ. She never stopped giving, helping, serving and loving well. She lightened the darkest room with her smile, and made me laugh even when she was dying. Could this be said of me?
The day after the tragic news, I pulled the weeds from my soon-to-be garden while the breeze whipped against my face, the warm sunshine tinting by pale skin from the long winter months. I thought of my friend and I remembered her words to me several months back, “Run your fingers through the dirt. Feel the breeze on your face. Smell the fresh blossoming flowers. Hug the ones you love. Do it all for God. And never take life for granted, for tomorrow could be your last.” She knew her days were numbered, yet she cherished every moment like it was her last – for it indeed was.
As I contemplated the reality and finality of death, the truth dawned on me: Cancer did not win the battle - nor does any other death story - the victory over death stands on God’s precious promises. Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” I am awed how God kept giving this same scripture verse several times this week as a constant reminder that cancer was not in control – Christ is! In fact, I have to share this story how God brought this verse to me: My family and I were driving home from Knoxville when we heard the tragic news of Becky’s death. My eyes were swollen from the tears, but we kept talking about the hope of the resurrection and the great promises we have in God. Suddenly, as we were passing a tractor trailer, we noticed etched in the dirt, the scripture references John 11:25 and John 3:16! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth upon Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” We were deeply touched how God demonstrates His intimate love in the midst of our deepest sorrows.
Isn’t that what it is all about anyway? Did not God give us our life and breath? And will we not one day have to give it back? There is no question from this day forward that I cannot keep or take anything with me when it’s all said and done – even this body I will have to lay aside, along with all my earthly possessions and accomplishments. The only thing that will remain standing is how I made each day count for God’s glory and for the blessing of others. If we know this, how will we live differently if we knew tomorrow were our last? What kind instead of harsh word would be spoken? What selfless deed would be done for a friend – or foe – in need? What grudge, bitter or jealous thought would be left behind? Will we be Jesus to others even when it hurts?
My friend was a stellar example of what it means to be a true follower of Christ. Her life – and death – drove home the fact that there are really only two things that will matter when we draw our last breath: The souls of those whose lives we impacted and God Himself. Becky is now on the other side of eternity with unspeakable joy and full of glory. God has wiped every tear from her eyes and there is no more sorrow and pain. (Revelation 21:4) This is life! And this is what she told me on numerous occasions: That if others could know Christ and be saved as a result of her life, then dying would be worth it. She was willing to lay down her life, so that others could know God. And this is what Christ did for us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
By Roxanne L. Griswold
© Copyright 2011