I've been lately questioning how much pride and vanity have taken over in my life. My beginning struggle against them, though, has only made me realize how tightly bound I am. I recently read some questions... Do you often compare yourself to others and how they look? Do you frequently wonder what other people are saying and thinking about how you look or how successful you are? Which is your higher priority, gaining the positive opinion of others or pointing others to Christ? When you walk in a room (that assumably has other people in it), who do you think about most: Christ, the other people, yourself? Um yeah, I got an F. (Yes, I am still grading myself with school letters. Yes, I need to work on that too. Yes, I do wish life was as easy as a school test. Those I can do. Life is way harder.) Anyway, I've been thinking about it a lot and realizing just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Then I remembered something my Dad had done after God had changed his heart and life so completely. He set a timer on his watch, and every hour you would hear him say 'Praise the Lord' to help set his mind on Jesus, to remember the sweet blessings God had given, to testify aloud to God's grace. Super idea. So I decided I would try every time I went somewhere new or met someone to think, 'May they see You,' to remind myself to quit being obsessed with myself and be praying that Christ would be lifted higher than me. Right...again F. Apparently I'm going to have to buy a watch. Most of the time I forget to remember, and even when I do remember, 5 minutes later I still find myself wondering if everyone liked my new tights, or worrying that I just laughed ridiculously loud, or realizing I just talked on and on about my life for 20 min never once thinking to ask someone else about theirs, let alone pray with them. Yes, I am the definition of a me monster (thank you Brian Reagan.) So I still have A LOT of enduring and hard working to do on this one (thank you Greg Sykes.)
In the midst of my meager struggling, however, my Aunt-in-law, if there is such a thing, Von, has had her own struggle. She has been wrestling with cancer for a few months now, but Jesus went ahead and claimed the victory over disease and death and brought her home with Him. I love Von a lot but only knew her a little since we have lived pretty far away from Kevin's family. She ministered to and loved college students, and she had a passion for missions. She loved Christ and completely loved her family, anyone who spent any time at all near her knew that. She passed away on Monday, and already I have read so many sweet stories from people who were impacted by her, everyone honoring Christ through their memory of Von. Every time I think about her, I end up in tears. Tears because she was a beautiful and kind person, and I will miss her a lot. Tears because another piece of my family is missing. Tears because I hurt for my Uncle Mike and cousins, Alyson and Phil. Tears because she gets to see Everett before I do. Tears because its just hard when ones we love are here and then not. But also tears because I want to be so humbled before Christ that He is able to reach through, impacting others with the same message of the cross that He has spoken through Von's life and death, even. I think about the excellent example she has lived out in front of everyone who knew her of lifting Jesus higher above her self. And so even in the tears, I have hope and joy. Hope because Jesus conquered death. Hope because He is Life. Joy because He has made Von's heart, has made my heart, too, white as snow. Hope because I know He will continue to bring victory in my struggles with selfish pride and vanity. So as I strive to lift Him high, I'll remember Von's life and I'll remember Christ's sacrifice and I'll have hope and press on. Thank you, Von. Thank you, Jesus.
I sat in tears amid the crowd on long
and lonely pews, choking out words in song
I could not understand, of life that's after
life, where all her tears are changed to laughter.
Now was all I knew about and pain
was all I felt, and all I heard was rain
upon the roof, falling steady as my
tears, and then there came a voice, a sigh,
an earnest moan in low and whispered breath.
"Life," it said. It was the voice of death.
This solitary word became vibrations
within my soul. Emotions and sensations
of guilt and hope, of fear and peace all pulled
my heart in mixed directions. Youth had fooled
me to believe that time was never ending,
and minutes could be wasted, vainly spending
and never savoring that softly spoken word.
Death breathed a sigh, and life is what I heard.